Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mother of injured boy needs gas money

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By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City Housing Authority is pitching in to help a Suisun City mother shoulder the expenses of seeing her injured son, who is hospitalized in Oakland.

The money is being turned into a gas card for the mother of 10-year-old Jordan Callison who was severely injured in the Nov. 17 rush hour crash on Highway 12 between Fairfield and Rio Vista.

The crash that fractured Jordan Callison's spine also killed two of his brothers, Demari Hutchinson, 12, and Emanuel Callison, 7. Regina Jackson was also injured in the accident.

His working mother is now shuttling between her home in Suisun City and Children's Hospital in Oakland to be with her son, as well as caring for a 2-year-old child.

Anyone wishing to help the efforts can drop off cash donations at the Housing Authority Office in Suisun City Hall, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

For more information, call 421-7333.

This is one of several fund-raising efforts local community groups have held to help the family.

Earlier this month, the Fairfield-Suisun Christian Center held a fund-raiser with games, refreshments and music to help with Jordan Callison's medical care.

Nicola Bucci, 34, of San Francisco, the driver of the vehicle that slammed into the car carrying the Callisons and Hutchinson, has since been charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

Those interested in helping the family can also make out checks to the Jordan A. Callison Relief Fund, Travis Credit Union, Attn. MSA department, 1 Travis Way, Vacaville, Calif. 95696.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Giving 'code' helpful to kids in Suisun City

Excerpted from Vacaville Reporter
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Reporter Staff Report
Dozens of Suisun City children will enjoy a brighter Christmas this year thanks to Code Kid, a new program developed by the Suisun City Police Department and a private security firm.

The nonprofit program has gathered donations of new toys and bicycles from residents, local businesses and charitable efforts of various government agencies, including the California Highway Patrol's "CHIPS for Kids" program.

Today, officers will hit the streets to distribute 20 bikes and numerous gifts to children in families identified as needing extra help to make Christmas bright this year. In one case, five children from a single family will receive bikes and gifts.

"This is really what working with the community is all about," said Commander Ed Dadisho. "Christmas is a tough time for a lot of families.

If we can help reduce that stress and show the kids and their parents that we care about them, it's a great win-win for everyone."

Code Kid was the brainchild of David Silva, owner of First Cavalry Security, and Officer Andrew White, Suisun City's school resource officer. The pair was working together on a community policing program when they saw a need to build stronger bonds between youth, the police and the community.

"Our goal from the outset was to find a way to provide some assistance for kids in need," White said.

Since August, Code Kid has collected donations and working with local schools, government agencies and community members to identify children who could benefit from a little extra generosity.

Though the major Christmas gift delivery is taking place today, Code Kid will continue to receive donations throughout the year to support children in need and reward youth who are caught doing the right thing.

Anyone wishing to support Code Kid may contact Officer White at 435-5845.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Suisun fire department gives gifts to the needy

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By Daily Republic staff

SUISUN CITY - For about 50 years the Suisun City Fire Department has been handing out gifts to needy children in Suisun City.

This year is no exception.

About 45 families Wednesday night received a surprise visit from the firefighter volunteers bearing two to three toys for each child.

About 6 p.m. volunteers gathered at the fire department on Pintail Drive. Toys were loaded on to the fire trucks and they dispersed to various parts of the city to hand out toys to unsuspecting families, who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford gifts for their children.

The toys were collected at various functions and were donated by the community, as well as local businesses and the volunteer fire department members. The names of needy families were collected from local schools and gifts were matched with the sex and age of each child.

"It's a fun night," Suisun City fire Chief Mike O'Brien said

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Solano clears first state bond hurdle

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By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - So far, so good in Solano County's quest for state bond money to help fix the interstates 80 and 680 interchange and widen Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon.

The two projects appear on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission staff recommendation list for the bond money. They made the first cut in a competition that has counties all over California vying for a share of a relatively small pot of money.

Also, the projects appear on a draft state Department of Transportation list of recommended projects for the bond money.

"Right now, we're in a good spot," Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said Tuesday. "As of today, the best you can be is on both lists."

County Supervisor-elect Jim Spering, the area's MTC representative, said the chances of getting money are far better than a shot-in-the-dark.

"Our project has as good a chance as any other project in the state," Spering said Tuesday.

Voters on Nov. 7 passed Proposition 1B, a $20 million transportation bond. The California Transportation Commission on Feb. 28, 2007, will discuss handing out $4.5 billion for projects that help ease congestion, with $1.8 billion to go to Northern California.

So the competition is on. Bay Area counties alone have come up with about 50 projects totaling more than $4 billion.

The MTC will decide which Bay Area projects are submitted to the state for consideration. Commission staff has come up with a list of recommended projects totaling $1.9 billion.

Included on the list is $200 million for the I-80/I-680 interchange at Cordelia. This would help build a new connection between the two freeways. It's the next phase in renovating an interchange that is the county's biggest traffic bottleneck.

The local stretch of I-80 carries commerce to and from the Bay Area, Spering said. Fixing the interchange is more than a Solano County project, he said.

"The way I read it, it's a high priority for the state," he said.

Economic Development Corp. works to build Solano

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)
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By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - Bringing new businesses and employers to Solano County is more than a full-time job. It requires endless self-promotion, friendly competition and cooperation to let potential leads know of the benefits of having an office, plant or store in the county.

For Michael S. Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corp., the challenges appear when he has to match the interest of a perspective employer with the needs, wants and availability of a city.

"The most important issue is making sure that the community is ready to welcome the investment," Ammann said. "We don't want a business to open and then go out of business. That doesn't work for anyone."

Getting prospective employers interested in Solano County is a long and slow process where only a fraction of those who show interest commit to a site, Ammann said. A lot of the leg work is done by Ammann, who travels constantly to trade shows and conventions to let companies know about the county.

The membership-based organization has 175 members and brings together the public and private sector.

"Many companies get to hear about Solano EDC through referrals from people we have worked with," Ammann said. "But we also get leads from other local economic development organizations who for whatever reason could not make the deal happen."

A couple of Ammann's most pressing goals are to bring high-paying jobs to the county and decrease the number of residents commuting out of the county for work.

"When you have people work where they live, that also gives them more opportunities to be involved in their community," he said. "Whether it is serving on a board, attending school activities or spending money locally."

He is passionate about Solano County because it can also be marketed as a family oriented community.

"Before all of our new development, people thought of Solano as a short stop between San Francisco and Sacramento," he said. "Now we have a Six Flags in Vallejo, great access to Napa, Walnut Creek, Jelly Belly, fresh produce and family activities."

While the organization doesn't have to create a certain number of companies or jobs each year, he is confident that 2007 will be a good year for the county.

"Presently we have 24 (companies or organizations) who are showing interest," he said. "The economy for California at this time looks promising with all the bio-technology companies in the state and development opportunities."

The surging economies in China and Japan are also a great source of possibilities for the ports in the Bay Area and its surrounding counties, Ammann said.

Suisun City approves plan to negotiate summer concerts

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City Council told its Recreation Department to go ahead with plans to work out a deal with Pepperbelly's Comedy and Variety Theater owner Jim Ignatieff to offer a second summer season of Harbor Nights concerts.

They also gave a thumbs-up Tuesday night to better support the "Saturday Night at the Movies" in the Harbor Plaza by offering more films.

There was more reticence to provide the First Saturday market events' organizer with funds to find more vendors, but the council agreed with the stipulation that once the venue is making a profit, the city is paid back.

Recreation Department head Mick Jessop proposed having the Harbor Nights concert series for a second season at the Harbor Plaza starting in July, offering five free concert along with three to four ticketed events.

According to a possible agreement with Ignatieff, the city would manage the free events and Ignatieff would manage the ticketed ones.

Last summer's concerts were described as going relatively well, but attendance was less than expected. It ended up costing Suisun City $30,145 and Ignatieff $34,439.

Jessop is asking the City Council to agree to pay $33,145 to help put on the 2007 concert series.

Councilmembers debated whether to close off the public dock to boaters who moor there to listen to the music for free, but chose not to close down the dock.

Councilman Mike Segala suggested more specific advertising to let residents know which concerts would be free and which would require a ticket.

Jessop forwarded a request from Saturday market promoter Debbie Kiikvee for financial support for the open-air crafts vendor markets she runs on the first Saturday of each month.

Kiikvee's events weren't well-attended in 2006 and a drop in interested vendors forced her to run the markets at a financial loss.

Jessop is asking the council for help with the 2007 Saturday markets by funding $1,000 per event for advertising and another $300 per event to allow Kiikvee to spend more time finding vendors, pre-planning the markets and developing themes for each market.

Councilman Sam Derting made the point that the city shouldn't simply pay out the $300 without a proviso that it be paid back once an increased number of vendors put the market back in the black.

Jessop wants to offer a weekly Saturday Night at the Movies that would run for eight Saturday nights starting on July 7 in the Harbor Plaza.

This idea was spurred by the popularity of the 2006 series that offered movies once a month during the summer with support from the Old Town's Business Improvement District.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Suisun City eyes entertainment changes for '07

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By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY - Will there be more summer movies at the Harbor Plaza, increased city support of the Saturday crafts markets and another Friday night concert season?


That is what the Suisun City Recreation Department wants the City Council to weigh in on Tuesday night as department head Mick Jessop prepares his department's 2007 event calendar.

These are three possible changes Jessop wants to make in a calendar of events that starts in April with an Easter egg hunt and wraps up with Christmas in Old Town.

The first is bringing back the Harbor Nights concert series for a second season at the Harbor Plaza starting July 13, but offering five free concerts along with three to four ticketed events.

"It is another event that both the community enjoys and puts Suisun City on the map for quality entertainment in a prime location," Jessop wrote in a memo to the City Council.

Under an agreement being worked out with Pepper Belly's owner Jim Ignatieff, the city would manage the free events and Ignatieff would manage the ticketed ones.

Last summer's series went relatively well considering how quickly it was planned and put together, but attendance was below what was expected and the image of the fence surrounding the concert put off residents.

The concerts ended up costing Suisun City $30,145 and Ignatieff $34,439.

Jessop is asking the City Council to agree to pay $33,145 to help put on the 2007 concert series.

The second possible change is a request from Saturday Market promoter Debbie Kiikvee for financial support from the city for the open-air crafts vendor markets she runs on the first Saturday of each month.

Kiikvee's events weren't well attended in 2006 and a drop in interested vendors forced her to run the markets at a financial loss.

Jessop is asking the council for help "to help turn the corner on making this event a mainstay event for the community." The 2007 Saturday markets are expected to run from May through August.

Kiikvee wants assistance in the form of $1,000 per event for advertising and another $300 per event to allow her to spend more time finding vendors, pre-planning the markets and developing themes for each market.

The third is offering a weekly Saturday Night at the Movies that would run for eight Saturday nights starting on July 7 in the Harbor Plaza.

This idea was spurred by the popularity of the 2006 series that offered movies once a month during the summer with support from the Old Town's Business Improvement District.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Suisun City Council to review proposals to develop waterfront

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By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY - Suisun City's last two undeveloped waterfront areas go before the City Council Tuesday for votes on if the city should start talks with a developer to build on one and hire a consultant to examine the best possible uses for the other.

No one has developed a 3.44 acre site at the end of Civic Center Boulevard due to concerns about potential toxic contamination. An old sewer plant was located there.

Now, Suisun City planners wants the City Council to approve exclusive negotiations with the Concord-based Silverwing Development to see if the site can be developed.

The land just west of it, which is also open, is being considered for possible development as open space, pedestrian trails and public access to the waterfront.

If the council agrees, the city and Silverwing have the next 90 days to determine if the land can be built on.

The council will also vote on whether to hire Berkeley-based Design, Community & Environment to determine if city proposals to improve the waterfront south of the Delta Cove neighborhood are feasible.

In September, the City Council heard a shopping list of ideas city planners sketched out for the area including:
  • Relocating the fuel dock closer to the boat launch and moving the fuel storage area away from where potential development may go.
  • Extending the pedestrian promenade south to the
    walking trails.
  • Improving the fishing pier or create two new piers, one for fishing and the other for people who just want to watch aquatic activity on the slough. This could include a dock that would accommodate kayakers and the local youth rowing club. A new fishing dock may be put adjacent to the boat ramps.
  • Putting in an aquatic center and storage building to allow the Parks and Recreation Department to store material for waterfront events.
  • Extending the boat ramps farther south.

Design, Community & Development is offering to examine the city's ideas and come up with possible designs for $15,000. Two other firms offered to do the work for $67,000 and $96,000.

Suisun City eyes developer for vacant land off Highway 12

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By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY
- Vacant land next to the Sunset Shopping Center could finally get businesses built on it if the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency agrees to exclusive negotiations with two interested developers.

The Redevelopment Agency wants to cut a deal with Silverwing Development of Concord and Truestreet Properties of Florida to develop the 8.29-acre site just north of Highway 12.

Silverwing and Truestreet propose to build 32,000-square-feet of specialty retail buildings on the site as well as put in two building pads that could eventually take a restaurant and a bank.

The two developers also want to put up a 120-room hotel, an idea that comes a couple of months after the city Redevelopment Agency showed the City Council plans with a hotel developer interested in building a hotel next to the waterfront.

Monte Vista Equities, the developer not backed by Suisun City planners, had proposed to build 33,150 square feet of office and retail space along with 100 units of senior housing which would take advantage of the proximity city's senior center a block away.

While planners liked both proposals, they went with Silverwing and Truestreet because "they had superior resources" and "extensive existing relationships with prospective retailers," according to a memo to the council from Suisun City Project Manager Jason Garben.

While Silverwing is expected to design and build the project, Truestreet will provide most of the funding and would market the project, the memo stated.

This is one of the sites targeted for development early this year after the Suisun City Council undertook a study of its vacant commercial sites to find out how best get more businesses built in town.

Bringing in more businesses and increasing the city's sales tax revenue to bolster a tight city budget is a top priority for city hall.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Suisun City iMap System Now Online

Excerpted from Nov. 6, 2006 Daily Republic >>click for full article (subscription required)>>

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City residents will be able to find out where crime is in their community as well as send in tips and information to the police, thanks to a new online crime mapping system.

The system is called the iMap Crime Mapping System, which will allow neighborhood watch groups, residents and businesses to send information and tips about crimes directly to the police department.

"If residents see something odd or suspicious, we want to know about it," Suisun City Police Commander Ed Dadisho. "With this system, they can check online to see if an incident was reported and instantly pass on to our investigators any information they may have about it."

Suisun City Police Officer Andrew White created the system using Google mapping software to display crime information from the department's reporting system.

This automatically updating mapping system can be accessed from any Internet-ready computer and it allows businesses and residents to e-mail tips to the police directly from the system.

'Family-friendly' Sunset Donuts Prospers Next to Starbucks

Excerpted from Nov. 6. 2006 Daily Republic >>click for full story (subscription required)>>

By Brad Stanhope

SUISUN CITY - In the shadow of the world's biggest coffee retailer, Bob Warren sits, reads the newspaper, sips a coffee and enjoys a pastry.

At Sunset Donuts, not Starbucks.

Warren, a 67-year-old tour bus driver, sits near the window at Sunset Donuts, in the Sunset Shopping Center near Rite-Aid.

"I come here anytime I'm off," Warren says. "It's been a little slow. Tourism's been slow. When it's busy, I work every day."

But when it's slow, he's here.

"I always come here to have coffee and associate with the owners," he says, smiling.

The owners are Pisey and Sithul Bou, who've run Sunset Donuts for 15 years. Although it sits a few yards from a Starbucks that opened a year ago, it continues to generate business.

"(Starbucks) hasn't hurt us at all," Pisey Bou says.

Leaders Focus on Pregnant Women in Suisun City Forum

Excerpted from Nov. 4 Vacaville Reporter >>click for more>>

By Erin Pursell/Staff Writer

The issue of prenatal substance abuse drew a lively crowd of 160 county leaders, health officials and experts and community members to a BabyFirst Solano forum Wednesday in Suisun City.

The purpose of the forum was to increase awareness and discuss support for the Solano County's pregnant women.

"Basically we're all trying to work together for the first time to provide a system of care for women who may be using substances while they're pregnant," said Jayleen Richards, a project manager for BabyFirst who helped organize the event. "A big piece is focusing on providing all these services within the prenatal care site so it becomes a sort of one-stop shop."

BabyFirst, which receives funding from First 5 Solano, is a public and private partnership aimed at creating a countywide, comprehensive system of care and support for mothers to help enable them - through education and support - to deliver and raise healthy, drug-free babies, staff said.

Wednesday's event focused on the agency's Prenatal Substance Abuse Initiative that has been ongoing for nearly a year.

KRON takes road trip through Suisun Valley

On the busy Interstate 80 freeway, cars race between the Bay Area and Sacramento.

But right beside the road, near Fairfield, we found an unexpected oasis, where life slows down quite a bit, and art and agriculture come together.

Suisun Valley truly is a pleasant surprise. Urban sprawl has taken over nearby areas, but Suisun Valley has retained its rural charm. Farms and vineyards dominate the landscape, and the area's beauty has attracted many artists here as well.

"It has an amazing feel out here," explains potter Joni Anderson. We're going to check it all out; from a legendary fruit stand, to a couple of wonderful wineries, to a fascinating community of artists and artisans.

Suisun Valley is located just north of Interstate 80, roughly halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento. It's about a 45 minute drive northeast from San Francisco.

As soon as we leave the highway, we're amidst farmland and ranchland, some with trees, some with cattle, and some with very unusual sculptures. Phillip Glashoff and his son Chad both sculpt using mainly recycled metal objects and they've put many of their larger pieces on display here at their sculpture ranch.

"We mimic each other as we go through life," explains Phil. "He uses my style, I use his. And we collaborate a lot." Chad's work is generally abstract, while Phillip's tends to be more whimsical. Chad quips, "One man's trash is another man's treasure!"

The Glashoff Sculpture Ranch is open by appointment only. A little farther into the valley, Phillip has a gallery with regular hours. It features many of the Glashoffs' pieces, plus the work of several other artists. The gallery is located at a quaint junction called Mankas Corner, which has become something of an art hub. >>click for more from KRON site>>


Take Notes:
  • Glashoff Gallery 2527 Mankas Corner Rd. (707) 427-8164 www.glashoffgallery.com
  • Vintage CafĂ© 2522 Mankas Corner Rd. (707) 425-3207
  • Vegetable Patch Owners Doug or Doreen Lum 2820 Rockville Rd. (707) 427-8164
  • Billy Hines Iron Art by Design 2525 Mankas Corner Rd. (707) 428-9977
  • Clay Station 2529 Mankas Corner road (707) 422-4942 www.dragonware.biz
  • Ledgewood Creek winery 45896 Abernathy Rd. (707) 426-4424 www.ledgewoodcreek.com Wooden Valley winery 4756 Suisun Valley Rd. (707) 864-0730 www.woodenvalley.com

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Suisun City Police to Expand Camera Program

Excerpted from Nov. 5, 2006 Daily Republic >>click for complete article (subscription required)>>

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City police hope to have the funding in hand by the end of this month to purchase and put up a dozen wireless cameras in various high-crime locations throughout Suisun City.

Getting the cameras is part of the city's resurgent police force's campaign against crime.
Recent success with anti-graffiti cameras that snap pictures of offenders has spurred the department forward.

One camera the city already has overlooks the marina area from the lighthouse. So far, it has not been a factor in detecting any crime or vandalism in the immediate area, police said.

Local businesses, impressed with what they have heard of the cameras, have already asked if they could purchase their own, "which would be great," Suisun City Police Sgt. Ted Stec said.

The other cameras, once they are acquired, will be put in undisclosed locations police want to monitor better, Stec said.

A large television placed in the police department's dispatch center will monitor the sites around the clock. Computers already in the city's patrol cars will allow patrolling cops to catch the view, too.

In a presentation to the City Council, Suisun City Police Commander Ed Dadisho said the cameras will allow police to have a better idea of what they are dealing with before responding to the area.

Police already used motion-detector cameras to combat graffiti in problem areas such as near the ABC Animal Hospital near the railroad tracks that separate Suisun City from Fairfield.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

New plaza coming to Suisun City marina

Excerpted from Nov. 4, 2006, Daily Republic >>click for full article (subscription required)>>

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City residents will soon get another grassy place to watch the harbor or events such as the city's Fourth of July fireworks show.

Workers are in middle of creating a plaza just south of One Harbor Center next to Driftwood Promenade that is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The rectangular plaza has six steps leading up the north side and a large gently sloping grassy area that faces south toward the harbor with shade trees on either side.

"It will be great viewing for the shows and activities on the harbor. Farmers markets and the like can go in there," said Lee Evans of Suisun City's Public Works Department which is overseeing the work.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Fairfield Move Doesn't Impact Wal-Mart's Suisun City Plans

Excerpted from Nov. 3, 2006 Daily Republic >>click for full story (subscription required)>>

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Fairfield Planning Commission's decision Wednesday against allowing Wal-Mart Supercenter in Mission Village hasn't affected the mega-retailers' plans to build a supercenter in Suisun City.

"No effect. None at all," said Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin Loscotoff of the plans for Suisun City. "We continue to move forward with the project in Suisun City."

Suisun City planners are preparing a draft environmental report on how the proposed 230,000-square-foot store will affect the area around the 20-acre site bordered by Highway 12 and Walters Road.

Nearby residents who oppose the store have organized and plan to lobby against the proposal when it reaches Suisun City's planning commission next spring.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

ONLINE CRIME MAPPING SYSTEM A BOON FOR NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

System allows residents to proactively assist police, protect neighborhoods

SUISUN CITY — A new online mapping system will empower Suisun City residents as active participants in preserving the safety of their neighborhoods. The Suisun City Police Department has proactively pursued crime prevention partnerships with other agencies and the community, which is already one of Solano County’s safest cities.

The new iMap Crime Mapping System is a tool to enable established Neighborhood Watch groups and individual residents and businesses to give crime information and tips directly to the Police Department.

“Suisun City has a long history of a very active and successful Neighborhood Watch program,” said police Commander Ed Dadisho. “If residents see something odd or suspicious, we want to know about it. With this system, they can check online to see if an incident was reported and instantly pass on to our investigators any information they may have about it.”

The iMap Crime Mapping System was developed by Officer Andrew White using Google mapping software display crime report information collected from the Police Department’s reporting system. The automatically updating mapping system is accessible from any Internet-ready computer. It allows residents and business owners to e-mail tips to the Police Department directly from the mapping system.

Suisun City is the first Solano County police agency to provide such detailed information in a simple-to-use online format. “We are really opening up so people know what is going on in their community and can stay involved,” Officer White said.

Police managers will use the iMap Crime Mapping System to better focus enforcement efforts and tailor deployment of the Crime Suppression Unit. While the iMap system provides general information to the public, a more detailed version quickly delivers incident and historical information to officers working particular sectors or incidents.

“With the help of inexpensive, available technology and a little ingenuity, we are providing vital information and enhanced analytical tools to engage our residents and proactively deploy our police forces in Suisun City,” Dadisho said.

The iMap Crime Mapping System can be accessed online at www.suisun.com/crimemap
Suisun City Press Release issued Nov. 2, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Messages of hope -- Local ceremonies honor victims, call for resolve

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson and Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City Police Chaplain James Scott told a small gathering Monday outside City Hall about his Sept. 11, 2001 experiences at Ground Zero, where he comforted rescue workers pulling bodies from the rubble.

But Scott took care that his message to the 70 or so police workers, city employees and onlookers was not one of dismay.

"I have hope," he said loudly and emphatically into the microphone, his voice reverberating on the buildings across the Suisun Channel.

The Suisun City Police Department inspection and awards ceremony was among the local events marking the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11. Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base also held ceremonies.

Vacaville paid homage to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 with a short dignified morning ceremony in front of the police station next to its Public Safety Memorial.

Travis Air Force Base servicemembers honored not only those who died on five years ago, but the nearly 3,000 servicemembers who died since then in the War on Terror around the world in a somber ceremony.

Suisun City: 'This is what they wanted to destroy'

At the Suisun City ceremony, Scott told those assembled he was called to Ground Zero five years ago in his role as chaplain of the Spiritual Care Aviation Incident Response Team for the National Transportation Safety Board. He saw the tragedy up close, holding the helmets of crying firefighters who had dug bodies out of the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

"We would carefully load the broken body on a stretcher, the horn would sound, all work would stop and I would lead a parade of firefighters holding the stretcher slowly down the rugged, burning rubble," he said.

At one point, rescue crews found a fire engine amid the rubble that had been crushed. About four people in the cab were dead. Fifty to 100 firefighters kissed the engine before the trip to the morgue, Scott said.

"Then they returned to the pile, with the hope of finding one of their friends alive," he said.
Scott stressed the hope held by the rescue workers and the sacrifices they made. He saw God transforming a living hell, he said.

Suisun City Mayor Jim Spering also spoke. He depicted Sept. 11 as an event that struck close to home, even though New York is more than 2,500 miles away. The terrorists struck at the fabric of the country, he said.

"This is what they wanted to destroy - the freedoms we enjoy and these small communities that govern themselves," Spering said.

Travis: 'A national resolve'

At 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Travis Col. Steve Arquiette described the day as not only a remembrance, but as an opportunity to "reaffirm our resolve to combat the extremists" who still threaten this nation.

Arquiette told assembled servicemembers that Sept. 11 has given rise to "a national resolve to keep this nation safe as to fight the good fight as long as it takes."

Since Sept. 11, Travis aircraft have flown more than 25,000 missions supporting the war on terror and nearly all its servicemembers have competed tours overseas. Approximately 700 are deployed around the world, Arquiette said.

Arquiette talked about flying over Ground Zero a year after the attack and pondered how soon it would be before Americans would forget about the horrendous day.

"But we have not forgotten, nor will we ever," Arquiette said.

One of the ceremony's guests, Fairfield Mayor Harry Price, described the anniversary as "a very somber day."

Price said he is still much more vigilant whenever he flies "because the forces of evil have not gone away."

Vacaville: 'How could I not be here?'

In Vacaville, an empty table was next to the Public Safety Memorial, set for the civilian, firefighter, police officer and military member who will never dine there.

A local veteran lit the candle on the table while a Vacaville firefighter rung a brass bell, a ceremony called Striking of the Four Fives to honor all the firefighters who lost their lives in New York that day.

"This is a symbol of the sacrifice and to show that we have not forgotten," veteran Kathleen Herren said.

Vacaville Fire Engineer Stewart Baldaram, Vacaville Police Officer Otha Livingston, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bill Griesemer and Vacaville resident Bob Vollmer then laid their service hats and a folded flag at the table.

This was to honor all those who died that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
"How could I not be here?" Vollmer said of why he participated.

Mark Helton and Rich Crockett were two of the people who made time out of their day for the ceremony, with Helton calling the ceremony "a fitting thing to do."

"(Sept. 11) heavily impacted my life," said Helton who was in the Air Force that day and has since served in Iraq. "It is important that we keep the memory of these people alive. It is easy for people to forget. We need to remember why we are fighting terrorism."

Crockett agreed, saying Sept. 11 caused him to take a deeper look at what brought America to that point and "examine the reality of the state of our world."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net. Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Heroes honored at Suisun City waterfront luau

From Daily Republic
By Susan Winlow

SUISUN CITY - Tables with red cloths dotted a portion of Suisun City Waterfront Park Saturday evening as the Red Cross honored area residents hailed as heroes with its Hero's Luau.

Dave Harris and the Voltones played 1970s rock as people in Hawaiian attire mingled with others and toured booths depicting recent disasters, animal CPR - complete with dog practice dummies - and a silent auction.

This is the fifth year the Solano County Chapter of the Bay Area American Red Cross chose to honor five area men and women in four categories: Act of Kindness, Courageous Act, Community Service and Lifesaving.

The evening, complete with cocktails and dinner catered by The Outback Restaurant, honored Vacaville residents Rhdora Kallum and Joyce Vancuren for assisting an accident victim; Grant Tokiwa, a Vacaville fire department member for his consistent dedication to worthy causes such as fund-raising for the Alisa Ann Rusch Burn Foundation; Larry Palmer for wading into the frigid American River near Kyburz to save a man whose car plunged into the river; and Vacaville's Sarah Vasquez, 19, who used CPR in May to revive a 2-year-old boy in her care who choked on his vomit.

"I'm very proud of her," said Bridget Clark, whose son Spencer Clark is still alive because of Vasquez's quick thinking and CPR knowledge. "It was the scariest phone call I've ever gotten."
Clark was in the Bay Area when she received the call her son stopped breathing. She didn't know how to do CPR and is glad Vasquez was with her son at the time.

"I acted instantly," Vasquez said. "I turned him over, cleared him out and did CPR."

Unlike Vasquez, Palmer didn't know the person he saved.

On his way to Lake Tahoe last winter, Palmer, a Fairfield Fire Department engineer, and his family passed a vehicle nearly submerged in the American River off Highway 50 near Kyburz.

Palmer and two others waded eight to 10 feet from shore into the icy, quick-moving river and pulled the man, who was trapped in his roofless vehicle and submerged to his neck in water, from the river with a rope.

Earning public kudos for a job well-done is something Palmer doesn't see much.

"It's different," he said. "I'm fortunate that I have a job that gets to affect people's lives (but) you don't get a lot of recognition for it."

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or swinlow@dailyrepublic.net.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Slough of challenges -- From anglers to kidnappers, patrol keeps waterways safe

From Daily Republic
By Audrey Wong

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City police not only keep the streets safe, they also protect people on the waterways.

Seven officers serve on the team that patrols the surrounding sloughs and bay - mostly on weekends during the summer when more people recreate in the slough. But the team will respond to emergencies year round. The officers regularly patrol the city, then work on the water in addition.

"People are more casual on the water," Suisun City Master Police Officer Trish Hart said. "They're relaxed. It's a nice way to contact people."

But the officers still encounter peril in the water.

The marine patrol scoured the slough off Grizzly Island Road Thursday to help Fairfield police search for an alleged kidnapper.

On July 4, the unit helped rescue a man and his 5-year-old son by the lighthouse, Hart said. The two were in a kayak that toppled and both plunged into the slough. The child was scared but father and son wore life vests, which helped, Hart said.

In mid-August, the unit helped the Solano County Sheriff's Marine Patrol with a boat accident involving five occupants, Suisun City police Sgt. Bob Szmurlo said. The boat was speeding at high tide, then ran over a levee and became airborne. No one was hurt.

Suisun City's boat patrol has helped stranded boaters and members have crawled out of bed to help fishermen whose boats got stuck in the mud in the middle of a cold foggy night, Szmurlo said.

The unit's boat has a global positioning system that helps the crew navigate when it's dark or the mist hangs heavy over the water. The state Department of Boating and Waterways provided funds to Suisun City police to purchase the boat. The same department pays for the Marine Patrol. The team also has two jet skis on loan.

The marine patrol's duties aren't limited to helping those in distress. On a recent cool, windy Sunday, Szmurlo, Hart and Officer David Fong glided out from the harbor into the slough.

Not many people were out because of the weather. So the boat team performed the other part of its job - safety education.

The trio came across a man with two children they saw earlier in the harbor. Hart asked for their life vests and informed the man that the law requires children younger than 12 to wear life vests. The children complied.

The boat patrol isn't out to write citations but to remind people about safety, officers said. The marine unit has life vests to loan to boat passengers who lack life vests and even have vests for children.

The unit also monitors jet skiers. There have been problems with people riding jet skis in the marina by the first buoy, Hart said. They like to ride the wakes left by boats, but the law prohibits jet skis within 100 feet of the edge of a boat.

Officers also ride on jet skis. Every year a local business loans Suisun City police two jet skis to patrol the marina.

The marine patrol also enforces the basic Department of Fish and Game laws. They check fishermen for fishing licenses. One Sunday when the boat unit cruised into Montezuma Slough by Grizzly Island, they spotted a few men fishing. Some of the men looked up from their lines and held up the licenses hanging around their necks.

The police boat travels as far as the reserve fleet off Benicia and to Collinsville. The unit also helped out at numerous maritime events such as the Bass Derby in Rio Vista, boat races in Antioch and Fleet Week in San Francisco, and have assisted Napa County Sheriff's deputies.

Other local boat patrols include the Solano County Sheriff's Marine Patrol, which is full time. The sheriff's boat patrol covers waters from the Suisun City dock, reaching to the bordering counties of Contra Costa, Yolo and Sacramento, said Paula Toynbee, sheriff's spokeswoman.

The four deputies and one deputy sergeant patrol and conduct rescues, investigations, searches and recoveries. The sheriff's fleet has three patrol vessels and two jet skis. The fleet will soon get a new 28-foot rescue vehicle and American Honda Company Inc. will loan two new Aqua Trax F-12 X Turbo jet skis.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or awong@dailyrepublic.net.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Air Force names up for consideration for park

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City's newest park will likely be named after something related to the Air Force when the city's Parks and Recreation Commission considers its options Wednesday.
Sixteen of 18 suggested names have military ties.

Five of the possible names are Air Force buzz words - America's Team Choice, Cross Into The Blue, Global Reach, Team Travis and Aim High. Another five are aircraft names - Falcon, Thunderbird, Eagle, Falcon, C-17 Globemaster and Globemaster.

The others possible names are Aviation, Honor, Heroes, Air Mobility, Airlifter, Airman, Peterson Ranch and Peterson Ranch Park.

Commissioners already tossed out the idea of naming the second park to be built in the Peterson Ranch after a person in August. All the streets in Peterson Ranch are named after Air Force bases.

Early last year, the city's Parks and Recreation Commission decided to name Peterson Ranch's other park, which is located on Vandenburg Drive, Patriot Park.

The commission had tossed out 26 other possible names that included the names of Air Force figures and that of a longtime Suisun City resident who had served in the military and worked at Travis Air Force Base.

The commissioners are expected to pick a minimum of three names they will send to the Suisun City Council later this fall for consideration.

The commission meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Suisun considers consultant for Old town projects

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City Council votes Tuesday whether to bring long-time city consultant ROMA Design Group into the effort to design and build the centerpiece projects of the Main Street West redevelopment project.

Councilmembers, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency, will consider two agreements Tuesday night.

One will hire ROMA as an on-call consultant on any projects coming before the Redevelopment Agency and a second hires ROMA as an on-call consultant for two buildings which the developer Main Street West Partners wants to build on either side of Solano Street on Main Street's east side.

The cost of the first agreement is open-ended, depending on how many projects ROMA looks at. The second will cost about $125,000.

It has been more than a year since Suisun City entered into exclusive negotiations with Main Street West to become the master developer and jump-start redevelopment efforts along Main Street.

It has been four months since the city sold 8.4 acres of downtown lots to the developer and work has yet to start.

More recently, the city sold Main Street West the vacant Crystal School site to build homes on with a proviso some of the money made from the homes go to commercial projects elsewhere in Old Town.

The developer promised earlier this year to start construction as early as this summer and there is talk of a groundbreaking for the two-building centerpiece project some time in September.

ROMA has been with Suisun City as a consultant on several downtown projects for a couple of years. It was part of the city/community workshops that came up with the plan to hire a master developer for the Old Town area and to build the lighthouse.

The Suisun City Council 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 ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Riders get more runs on Capitol Corridors

From Daily Republic
By
Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - Train riders now have more choices in times to catch the Capitol Corridors at the Suisun-Fairfield station.

The Capitols this week started operating 32 trains daily between Oakland and Sacramento, with 16 in each direction. The service had been operating 24 trains.

"We have as many trains now between Oakland and Sacramento as Amtrak operates on the northeast corridor between Boston and New York," Capitols Managing Director Eugene Skoropowski said.

For example, early morning commuters can catch trains from Suisun City toward Oakland at 5:09 a.m., 6:09 a.m., 6:59 a.m. and 7:39 a.m. The station is located at 177 Main St. in Old Town, under the Highway 12 overpass.

"We've got a train almost anytime you want to go," Skoropowski said.

In the future, the Capitols for the Sacramento/Oakland stretch will concentrate on adding more cars to trains. For example, a five-car train might become an eight-car train, Skoropowski said.

The Capitols made one other change this week. The number of trains traveling to and from Oakland and San Jose increased from eight to 14. Along the way, they stop in such places as Hayward and Fremont.

These train increases for the San Jose run proved key to the Oakland-Sacramento increases as well. Before, trains that went to San Jose had to stay there for long periods because of the amount of freight traffic on the line.Track improvements made by the Capitol Corridor service this summer allowed the extra San Jose service. And that in turn allowed these trains to continue back to the Oakland/Sacramento stretch, adding the extra service there.

Now the Capitols can generate more revenue with the same amount of equipment, Skoropowski said.

There's more work ahead. The Capitols will try to add still more trains for the Oakland/San Jose and Sacramento/Roseville/Auburn stretches.

But Skoropowski believes the Capitols are already offering the kind of service envisioned when state voters in 1990 passed a bond to help pay for them.

"I think the message is, 'We delivered,' " Skoropowski said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

TRAIN TIMES

Weekday Capitol Corridor schedule for Suisun/Fairfield:
Westbound: 5:09 a.m., 6:09 a.m., 6:59 a.m., 7:39 a.m., 8:19 a.m., 9:09 a.m., 9:59 a.m., 10:49 a.m., 12:49 p.m., 2:49 p.m., 4:14 p.m., 5:19 p.m., 6:19 p.m., 7:19 p.m., 8:19 p.m., 9:49 p.m.

Eastbound: 5:38 a.m., 6:48 a.m., 7:38 a.m., 8:53 a.m., 10:23 a.m., 11:23 a.m., 1:23 p.m., 2:33 p.m., 3:58 p.m., 4:38 p.m., 5:18 p.m., 5:58 p.m., 6:42 p.m., 8:03 p.m., 9:27 p.m., 10:28 p.m.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Officers use old classrooms to learn tactics

From Daily Republic
By Audrey Wong

SUISUN CITY - The "boogey man" waited for the police officers in a classroom of the old Crystal Middle School.

To get to their target, the officers swept across the deserted library. They crept around book shelves then slinked to the door at the rear of the library. One officer swiftly opened the door and the team poured into the room, each member racing into position.

Three of the officers pointed their weapons at an overturned table. Then Los Angeles police Officer Gus Chacon told them what to say.

"Suspect - let me see your hands!" Chacon barked.

Suisun City police Officer Pedro Arroyo was the designated "boogey man," as Chacon calls the pretend suspect. Arroyo stood up and sheepishly raised his hands.

Afterward, Chacon told the police officers how they could have better handled their weapons and approach the suspect.

For four days this week, officers from Suisun City, Rio Vista, Benicia and other local agencies will practice entering buildings and handling active shooters at the former Crystal Middle School campus. The skills the officers learn could be used in various situations, from serving search warrants to dealing with a barricaded armed suspect. The officers brushed up on their tactical training together so they could work together effectively during an emergency, Suisun City police Lt. Ed Dadisho said.

The abandoned campus was ideal for training because, with the different rooms, officers didn't know what to expect, Chacon said. Officers didn't use live ammunition or guns.

Four officers from the Los Angeles Police Department metropolitan division taught the course. The unit helps police throughout Los Angeles in special weapons and tactics, crime suppression, crowd control and other operations, LAPD Sgt. Andrea Balter said.

On Tuesday the officers began learning about clearing rooms of suspects. The basic skills officers gain in clearing rooms can be used for various situations such as serving search warrants, Balter said.

"Say you have two officers respond to a burglary alarm," Balter said. "They have to open the door and clear the building to make sure no one is in there."

On Wednesday, officers practiced apprehending active shooters, a police term for a suspect in the midst of attacking. The scenario was a school shooting with 18 dead and the suspect hiding somewhere on campus. Groups of officers cautiously trod through the littered hallways, their boots crunching on shattered glass. They systematically searched one end of the hallway before loud pops rang out.

The officers investigated the other end of the hallway. They slipped into one room full of cabinets and checked them. They opened one cabinet to find it splattered in red paint and Arroyo crouched inside.

Police developed active-shooter tactics because of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, Dadisho said. The tactics can be used for situations other than attacks at a campus.

"It can be in a house where the suspect is actively stabbing somebody," Dadisho said. "It can be used whenever there is a need for an immediate reaction."

Training will continue today and Friday.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or awong@dailyrepublic.net.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Suisun City police begin tactical training today

From Daily Republic
By Audrey Wong

SUISUN CITY - Police will conduct tactical training starting today through Friday at the old Crystal Middle School campus on Cordelia Road and School Street.

Officers will practice entering buildings and handling active shooters, said Suisun City police Lt. Ed Dadisho. Active shooter is a police term for a suspect currently firing on victims. That could be a situation such as a sniper or like the Columbine high school attack, said Suisun City police Sgt. Ted Stec.

Tactical building entries are for situations such as serving search warrants, a barricaded suspect, parole and probation searches among other things, Stec said.

Police will not use live ammunition or guns in the exercises, Stec said. Officers will use fake guns and dress in plain clothes. Stec said he did not expect a lot of noise from the training.

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department will lead the training. Dadisho was previously an LAPD sergeant. The first part of the training will be classroom instruction followed by role playing.

All Suisun City police officers have learned to deal with active shooters and entering buildings to meet state requirements for officers training, Stec said. But officers need to practice and polish their skills so they are prepared for anything, Stec said. Suisun City police also provide assistance for other local police departments during major incidents.

The training sessions will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or awong@dailyrepublic.net.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Demolition of ranch house marks new beginning

From Vacaville Reporter
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

Rush Ranch is getting a new nature center on its property, but not before some internal housekeeping is completed.

An excavator, manned by Ken Borders, an equipment operator with the Fish and Game Department, started in on Friday to tear down an old building that had once served as the ranch caretaker's house to make room for the future construction. Volunteers showed up on Friday and Saturday to help sort through the debris.

"It's always sad to get rid of things you're familiar with," Kirsti Muskat, a volunteer with Solano Land Trust, said Saturday morning after watching the frame of the house shake every time a part of the roof was pulled off. "But we're generally excited to see it go to make way for a better place. This is just one step in the process of building the nature center."

The State Coastal Conservancy (SCC) approved a $500,000 grant to the Solano Land Trust for construction of a nature center at Rush Ranch. This grant adds to the $500,000 awarded last year from the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, according to the ranch's Web site.

The Patwins, the Native Americans who lived in the Solano County area and areas to the north, resided on what is now Rush Ranch for hundreds of years, the Web site said.

The Suisun Marsh is billed as the largest estuarine marsh in the entire United States. Now protected by state law, the whole of the marsh is a local environmental treasure that is a home to a variety of wildlife and birds.

The new facility will include a nature center and adjoining caretaker residence, as well as lab, living quarters, public toilets and office space for visiting scientists, said Ken Poerner, a member of Solano Land Trust.

The sorted debris will be given to a landfill to reuse. According to Poerner, who also organized the demolition project, 70 to 80 percent of the lumber gathered will be chopped up and reused, while about 10 to 15 percent of the metal will also be reused in some capacity.

Poerner put aside some floor beams that he plans to use to help restore the ranch's corral. He pointed out that the old house only sits on dirt and that a concrete foundation was never poured.
Muskat's children were also sorting through debris, finding chunks of insulation, window frames, pipes and water faucets. The Muskats regularly volunteer at the ranch, but this was the first time they've been a part of a demolition project.

"Sometimes (volunteering) is a lot of fun," said Tallin Muskat, 15, wearing work gloves while tearing through drywall. "We've been able to drive a bulldozer before."

More volunteers showed up to help Saturday morning.

One volunteer, Jessica Schneider, who works with the National Estuarine Research reserve, said she is very excited about the new facility. She watched, mesmerized, as the building was being torn down. She said that she's looking forward to having a convenient lab on the property in which to do research.

"We have a strong investment in this project," said Schneider, who also works with the weather station that sits close to the demolished building. "We have a great partner -ship with Solano Land Trust, plus it's a lot of fun."

Members of Boy Scout Troop 481 also showed up Friday to volunteer their time.
"A lot of people care about Rush Ranch and what it has to offer," Poerner said. "This is for the future."

Melissa Murphy can be reached at dixon@thereporter.com.

Sunset on the water--Suisun Slough boat cruises take guests for tours

From Daily Republic
By Stephanie Jucar

SUISUN CITY - The California Sunset, a blue and white, two-story boat docked in the Suisun City harbor, is hard to miss.

"It's the biggest boat in the harbor," said the boat's owner, Capt. Dan Thiemann.
Thiemann and his fiancee, Betty Jo Coleman, started giving 90-minute tours through 8 to 10 miles of Suisun City sloughs for the first time July 1.

"We're just getting started but we already have some regulars," he said.

Fairfield resident Caroline Fox came for a second time - and brought a friend.

"I've always dreamed of going here," she said, donning a jacket and scarf.

She spotted the boat several weeks ago on a walk down the edge of the harbor.

"It's a nice place to go with a friend," she said.

After taking pictures with Lynn Holt, the pair listened to the captain's message.

"We should see some exciting stuff in the way of wildlife," Thiemann said to his guests before he started the tour. "You're going to see what you would have seen in California 200 years ago, untouched by man. No roads, no buildings."

Many people who have lived in the area their whole lives have never seen the sloughs from sailing on the water, Thiemann said."This is their chance to see it," he said. "People want to sit, relax and have fun."

Short cruises are available Thursday through Sunday during the day and in the evening.
"We try to keep it as family-oriented as possible," Coleman said.

Rain or shine, Thiemann said he'll take people on tours year-round as long as guests come at tour take-off times.

On a late summer evening about 18 people of all ages hopped on the boat for a tour.
On a normal weekend night, Gina Prendivalle, 47, and Brian Pene, 40, usually eat a nice dinner at a restaurant together or mingle at a bar.

But on a Friday night a couple weeks ago, the couple decided to check out the scene at the Suisun City waterfront.

"It's a perfect night to go out and do this," Prendivalle said, leaning over the railing with her hair whipping in the wind on the second story of the boat.

They watched the sunset and cuddled close as the night grew cooler.

Keith and Nancy Weitemeyer celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary on the California Sunset, taking pictures of the late summer sunset and relaxing on the boat's second-floor benches.

"This is fun," the wife said. "I like being on top of the water."

Thiemann enjoys having large families with kids because they can learn about local waterways and sloughs, he said.

The California Sunset was the first boat 8-year-old Alondra Trujillo has ever been on.

"It's fun," she said, while chewing on a Snickers bar sold at a concessions stand in the boat. "I liked it when he started the boat."

Thiemann also lets passengers take the helm for a few minutes, while he answers their questions about boating and the wildlife around them.

The California Sunset is also available for private parties, Thiemann said.

Corporate parties, family reunions, birthdays, school field trips, weddings, amongst many other kinds of parties, have used the boat, he added.

On a romantic night with a partner, an educational tour with kids or a family outing, the California Sunset is a boat that invites you to explore the sloughs of Suisun City.

Reach Stephanie Jucar at 427-6935 or sjucar@dailyrepublic.net.

Suisun City boat cruise: California Sunset
Cruise through the Suisun City sloughs

  • Departs from Suisun City waterfront by Main Street
    4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
    $15 adults; $5 children, under 3 are free.
  • Monday through Wednesday open for reserved groups of 10 or more at any time
  • For reservations call (916) 289-8375
  • Note: Regular cruise times Thursday through Saturday may change due to large party reservations

Friday, August 25, 2006

Agencies look to restore tidal wetlands

From Daily Republic
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Several state, federal and local agencies are turning back the clock on 70 acres in Suisun Marsh to restore tidal wetlands.

It's a start. The ultimate goal is to someday restore 5,000 to 7,000 acres of the marsh to the tidal wetlands that were once prevalent there. Tidal wetlands are home to such rare species as the delta smelt, Suisun thistle and California clapper rail, according to a study for the project.

Restoration work is to be done at the Blacklock site along Little Honker Bay in the eastern marsh. The California Bay Delta Authority provided a $536,000 grant for the project.

"This restoration represents an opportunity to realize the many ecosystem benefits that are commonly associated with healthy tidal marsh habitat," the project draft environmental study said.

Suisun Marsh and Suisun Bay in their natural state had 68,000 acres of tidal wetlands, a project study said. Farmers in the mid-1800s to early 1900s put up levees to create farmland. More than 90 percent of the tidal wetlands were lost.

Later on, many of these farms converted to duck clubs or became state preserves.

With managed wetlands, the land remains behind levees and is flooded and drained by the caretakers at certain times of the year. The goal is to grow plants that attract waterfowl.In contrast, tidal wetlands are subject to the daily rhythms of the tide.

The Bureau of Reclamation released an environmental report on the proposed Blacklock restoration project. It can be found at www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=2277. The bureau is accepting comments through Monday.

Restoration of the land involves breaching the levees. Sediment would be carried in by the tides over time build up the subsided land. Plants and wildlife communities would establish themselves naturally, the environmental report said.

The Suisun Resource Conservation District is a partner in the restoration effort. The goal is to complete the needed work by Oct. 15, Executive Director Steve Chappell said.

Also working on the project are the state Department of Water Resources and state Department of Fish and Game, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers providing advice.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Suisun City still searching for tenant to fill Alberston's lot

From Daily Republic
By Daily Republic staff

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City's Redevelopment Agency and the owner of Sunset Center are still looking for someone to fill the large hole left when the Albertsons grocery store closed its doors.

"We are cooperating with the owner to get some replacement for the old tenants," Suisun City Redevelopment Agency Director Al da Silva said.

Just who those future tenants will be is unknown and no announcement about a new tenant is expected for some time, da Silva said.

The Suisun City Albertsons closed in early August because it had become one of the underperforming stores in the grocery chain, according to Albertsons spokeswoman Stacia Levenfeld.

It was the only Albertsons closed among six stores located in Solano and Napa counties.

In June, an investment firm purchased 168 Albertsons stores in Northern California and Northern Nevada. It also announced it would close 31 of those stores.

Suisun City leaders hope to see a new business open up at the old Albertsons site that would bring in more taxable revenue than Albertsons. Suisun City didn't receive a lot of revenue from Albertsons because groceries are not taxed.

First stop: Coffee for Suisun City

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City train station on Main Street may become more than just a place to get on the train or the bus soon.

Kirk Knutson, owner of El Capitan Coffee Company and the person who now opens up the train station early in the mornings, is hoping the coffee stand he now runs there from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. will become something greater.

"It is going to be awesome," Knutson said. "I have a lot of ideas I am going to run through the City Council."

Knutson was running a cafe in Woodland when the Greyhound Bus Company cut out its stop and the person who took tickets at the train station three weeks ago.

Suisun City officials, who knew Knutson when he ran a small coffee business at 333 Sunset Avenue some time ago, called him and asked if he would be interested in opening and closing the train station doors.

Knutson took on the duties and set up his coffee stand on Aug. 1 and early morning passengers using Amtrak have liked having the doors open so early as well as pastries and a cup of hot coffee at hand.

He would like to expand his business hours until 5 p.m. as well and offer sandwiches, soups and salads on several tables he would like to set up.

"It will be pretty nice," Knutson said of expanding what is now a brisk morning business.
Amtrak plans to offer more train service along the route and Knutson sees his business expanding along with that.

"With gas prices and airlines, people will be using Amtrak," Knutson said.

Suisun City Redevelopment Director Al da Silva called the new business "an evolving situation" that already allows the city to keep the train station open to residents.

Knutson's presence helps meet two Suisun City goals, da Silva said, keeping the station open and seeing it "put to a higher use."

"Eventually maybe we hope he will offer additional retail services," da Silva said. "We are talking with him about more permanent structure; maybe get into a formal agreement with a lease."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Pez dispensers, Pez collectors -- Husband, wife avid fans of iconic candy containers

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Pez collector Dawn Stec says her favorite dispensers are the ones that look slightly used.

While some Pez collectors keep their prizes in their plastic wrapping, Stec said she likes to "free my Pez and fill them with candy.

"If I find one that has been used, it is more special to me because a child has probably used it," Dawn Stec said.

Her husband, Suisun City Police Sgt. Ted Stec, likes handing out Pez that look like police officers to his men during briefings and jokingly says the 50-plus police Pez dispensers the couple have "look like me."

The Pez Candy Inc. sells the candies that look like small bricks, dispensed from pocket-sized mechanical dispensers, according to the Wikipedia.com.

The name comes from the German word for peppermint, pfefferminz, the first Pez flavor. The candy was invented in Austria in 1927 and initially came in a small tin similar to modern Altoid tins.

The first dispensers, some of which are included in Dawn Stec's collection, looked like a cigarette lighter and dispensed the small breath mint as an alternative to smoking.

In 1952, Pez was introduced to America. Three years later, the company put heads on the dispensers and marketed them to children. These first head dispensers included Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus and Spacetrooper.The company is now headquartered in Traun, Austria, and produces more than 3 billion candy bricks a year in its American facilities alone. The dispensers are produced in Hungary and China.

Now, there are more than 450 unique dispenser heads with thousands of variations.
Name a cartoon character from Bugs Bunny to Snow White to Spongebob Squarepants and there is probably a Pez dispenser with his or her head on it.

"The Batman one (from the 1960s) is fairly rare because he has a cape," Dawn Stec said.
The list of the rarest, which the Stecs still don't have, includes a Lions Club Pez and a Make-A-Face Pez where the dispenser came with a 13 extra parts for people to make different faces. It was soon pulled from the market because the company thought the small parts represented a choking hazard for children.

The company has a general rule against putting likenesses of real people on its dispensers. It has only created three in its history - Betsy Ross, Daniel Boone and Paul Revere.

A bride and groom Pez duo the Stecs have is another of the rare dispensers.

"A Pez company employee had them created and they were given out as party favors for a wedding," Dawn Stec said.

Dawn Stec started her casual Pez collecting in high school when she starting picking up the colorful candy dispensers in the grocery store.

When she got a job in Fremont, Dawn Stec set up some of her collection at her desk and friends soon started bringing in Pez dispensers that they found and added them to her collection.

"It was then that I got a collection without realizing it," Dawn Stec said.

For the first 10 years, she kept her collection in a shoe box and thought her hobby of collecting Pez was fairly unique until she found another collector and saw his collection.

When Dawn Stec told her then-future husband Ted that she collected Pez and the worldwide extent of Pez collectors, Ted Stec said he was a little skeptical.

"Then I went to my first Pez convention and it convinced me this was all real," Ted Stec said. "It was a lot of fun to meet people who collected Pez dispensers."

The couple put up a table at the firemen's muster earlier this summer, selling firemen Pez dispensers to firefighters from all over the state who gathered in Old Town Suisun City.

Ted Stec also likes the sports Pez dispensers for baseball and football, as well as dispensers honoring the top drivers in NASCAR racing.

"I am looking forward to the Orange County Chopper Pez when it comes out," Ted Stec said.

Both Dawn and Ted Stec said their passion for Pez is nothing compared to Dawn's mother, Tina Gunsauls, who Dawn introduced to collecting several years ago.

"She does 10 times as much collecting as I do now," Dawn Stec said, also noting her mother runs a Pez selling business out of her home in Red Bluff.

Dawn's father even built an extension to the house to hold both his wife's and his daughter's Pez collection, but also to house Gunsauls' place of business.

As for where Dawn and Ted Stec would like to take their collecting, they said they would some day like to buy a live-work residence and set up a candy store that would feature Pez.

Unlike the chewing gum card collectors who immediately toss the obligatory stick of gum when they get their sports card pack, the Stecs say they also like the Pez candy too.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

On the Waterfront ... Transformation leads more and more people to rediscover Suisun City

From Vacaville Reporter
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

Rewarding results from more than 20 years of redevelopment efforts are increasingly tangible in Suisun City's waterfront area.

A quick glance at the dramatic "before and after" photos makes plain the once grim, crime-ridden area has undergone an incredible transformation through the years into a charming little waterfront and marina peppered with alluring shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

Debuting just days ago, in fact, was www.suisunwaterfront.com - a new Website dedicated to the waterfront, its businesses and numerous outdoor markets and events, as well as its history and redevelopment. The site is just one of the projects of the Suisun Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District, a consortium of the area's business owners who've been working hard for several years to brand and promote Suisun City.

Their (voluntary) efforts in tandem with city's seem to be working. The marina's vacancy rate is one of the lowest in the county, with its guest dock frequently full on weekends. Events are well attended - more than 15,000 are estimated to have visited last year's Fourth of July festivities. And more development is in the pipeline.

"It's a huge difference," acknowledged Scott Corey, Suisun City spokesman.

Corey explained the area had its beginnings as an industrial shipping center, as ships from San Francisco would arrive to procure goods from surrounding valleys, but the harbor was eventually bypassed by the interstate highway system, and as shipping declined, Corey said, "everything just sort of changed."

"The waterfront became the place where you put everything you didn't want to see anywhere else in town," he said, "so what we ended up with were a bunch of industrial uses and various things that just don't scream out this is a beautiful place to be."

Furthermore, he noted, the marina was riddled with dilapidated docks and partially sunken boats and was bordered by "The Crescent" - a high-density, high-crime neighborhood that consumed well over half of the city's law enforcement budget.

"It just was not a good place to be," Corey said.

The city decided to step in, he explained, and set up a redevelopment agency in the early '80s. Bonds to the tune of $60 million were issued to pay for the extensive make-over. Much property was purchased, cleared and cleaned, Crescent residents were relocated as the neighborhood was demolished, and the marina infrastructure was created.

A 5,000-foot waterfront promenade was built, as was a downtown plaza with outdoor stage, a 170-seat theater, and new pedestrian oriented residential neighborhoods including live/work units.

"Really, we just started pouring investment into the downtown," Corey said, noting that a good deal of that investment - such as dredging the harbor and constructing sea walls - is literally underground.

The city's substantial investment and commitment to its vision of the waterfront as an attraction convinced many business owners and investors to "Rediscover Suisun" - as the slogan conceived by the business improvement district urges.

That's one of two reasons The Wiseman Company developed One Harbor Center, a 50,000-square foot, three-story, upscale office building that overlooks the water.

President Doyle Wiseman explained that the city's positive attitude about redevelopment was a major attraction. "You had the feeling that it's only going to get better," he said. "That was a factor - that local government, particularly for such a small city, has been very effective. It's a can-do government."

Corey confirmed, "It is the high priority project for us, from the city council on down."

And the other reason The Wiseman Co. believed Suisun City to be a sound investment?

"The Suisun City waterfront is very unique in the county - there's nothing else like it," Wiseman said. "It's just a wonderful place to go every day. People like being there."

Michelle Hicks, owner of waterfront business Yoga Junction, concurs.

"I grew up in Vacaville," she noted, "and Suisun had always been an armpit, where you never wanted to go. I hadn't visited there in a long time even though I live in Cordelia."

As she looked for a new home for her yoga studio, she said, "Something told me to go visit. I went to lunch at the Athenian Grill and I was blown away by how beautiful they had made downtown Suisun."

The feel of the revitalized waterfront area, coupled with its numerous festivals, Hicks said, made her want to join the community.

"I'm delighted to be a part of it and I think it's only going to get better," she said. "It's exciting to see a town turn itself around and they've really done a good job. I think there's still lot of people who don't realize, like I didn't, what it's become. So many people still don't know where Suisun is, and I think that's going to change. I think it's going to be a real hub for people."

As does Shelly Kontogiannis, president of the Suisun Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District, and owner of the Athenian Grill located in Harbor Plaza. The second building on the waterfront, the Athenian Grill has been operating successfully for nine years, and its property value has more than doubled, Kontogiannis said.

"It's just going to get better as time goes on and the development is happening," she asserted.
She is referring to the Main Street West project, which entails redevelopment of 13 parcels near the waterfront, Main Street and Civic Center Boulevard by Main Street West Partners, LLC.

The centerpiece of the project, which will likely break ground in late August, will be several two-story mixed-used buildings constructed in a plaza-style fashion on the corner of Solano and Main streets.

Completion of the first phase of the Main Street West project, Corey said, will work as a catalyst for redevelopment of neighboring parcels.

Similar sentiments were shared by Garry Rowe, who runs Family Values Magazine from one of the live/work units bordering the promenade.

"Main Street West is going to break the whole thing open," Rowe predicted. "I think 2010 is really going to be our year - you'll see a vibrant downtown where on a Friday or Saturday night you're going to have a hard time getting into a restaurant, you're going to see a lot of people walking around having a good time, you'll see people in public courtyards enjoying music or strolling up the promenade."

In the next two years alone, Rowe, said, "We're anticipating space for 30-40 new businesses."
The challenge, Corey noted, is in ensuring that good development decisions are made, and the city is being very selective about what fills the waterfront space, working closely with Main Street West Partners.

"We're at this juncture. We've done all the sort of heavy-lifting, major investments into the waterfront," he said. "We've created a terrific environment, an environment people want to go to, a place that's now economically viable. We have the assets. Now we're moving into that phase of putting in the things we'd always envisioned here, making it a destination."

Amanda Janis can be reached at business@thereporter.com.