Thursday, December 27, 2007

Get Involved!

TRANSPORTATION WEB POLL & VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission wants to hear from you about transportation project priorities, climate change, land use and more. The MTC, which oversees transportation planning and funding for the nine Bay Area counties, including Solano, is updating its future plans through 2035 partly through this online web survey.

If you ever wanted to have a say about the highways, public transit or other transportation-related issues, this is your chance to be heard. The poll runs through January 18.

Speaking of being heard, California's Presidential Primary is coming up on February 5. If you haven't voted in a recent election or have moved since you last voted, you'll need to re-register with the Solano County Registrar of Voters. Click here to fill out the paperwork online. The deadline to register is January 21.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tears are tribute to officer

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Carol Bogart Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - For retiring Suisun City police Sgt. Bob Szmurlo, it has been quite a ride.

At the Dec. 18 meeting of the City Council, Councilwoman Jane Day and City Manager Suzanne Bragdon were among those moved to tears as police dispatcher Amber Kent issued an 'End of Watch' announcement to all units, marking Szmurlo's retirement.

The veteran officer's wife, Leanne, and other family members stood proudly with Szmurlo as Kent read a partial recitation of Szmurlo's achievements.

Szmurlo, 50, joined the department as a reserve officer in 1978 and was hired full time a month after graduating from the police academy in 1980. He was twice named officer of the quarter and earned a promotion to sergeant in 1981. Szmurlo headed Suisun City's marine patrol almost from its inception and field trained two dozen incoming officers.

He's especially proud of his work with youth in connection with Suisun City's DARE program, which he started. Those students, who are now in their 20s, will today stop him on the street to say, 'Hey, you were my DARE instructor!'

Szmurlo was also commander of the SWAT team. Early in his career, there was a 10-year stint in which he served as a police officer and a volunteer firefighter. He first began his career in public safety as an Emergency Medical Technician when he was just 18.

The Fairfield native and 1976 Armijo High School graduate lived in Suisun City for 17 years before moving his family to Vacaville in 1999. The timing of his retirement means he will be home today and enjoy Christmas with his family.

'It'll be nice to not have to worry about being called in and called out,' Szmurlo said.

Szmurlo has passed the baton to his youngest son, Kevin, a police officer in Dixon. His oldest son, Shon, might enter the police academy in March. The Szmurlos also have a daughter, Candice.

The 'End of Watch' announcement noted that Szmurlo imparted his wisdom to many during his 30 years on the force. Eyes misted at Kent's concluding words: 'You have made an indelible mark on this community that will never be erased.'

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at
cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Volunteers pay price for passion

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By
Carol Bogart Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Five kids. All under 7, including not-quite-2-year-old twin boys. Plenty to keep you busy if you have just one job, right?


Tim Blewett, 32, has two. There's his county job doing environmental impact studies, and then there's his job as one of 46 volunteer Suisun City firefighters.

'I'm blessed to have a wife who supports what I want to do,' Blewett said.

Blewett's goal is to one day be a full-time firefighter. The day shifts he pulls as a volunteer are helping him achieve it.

In his regular job, he works a four-day week. A day shift at the fire house on Pintail Drive is 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Because many of the volunteers have regular jobs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Blewett can get more training by taking those harder-to-fill weekday shifts. Sometimes on Friday, he'll work a double.

As a volunteer, there's no pay or benefits. When he has used up his vacation time from his county job, he'll take unpaid leave to work more hours at the fire station.

After Blewett got out of college, he married and worked in an unrelated field. Any time he saw a fire engine racing down the street, he would think, ''Boy, I'd really like to do that.''

Each volunteer is required to work a minimum number of night and weekend shifts per month, but it's up to the volunteers which shifts they take. In the year and a half since Blewett graduated from Solano Community College's Fire Academy, he hasn't had to spend a holiday away from his wife and children.

Once he's a paid firefighter, that will change. He and his family know he will be 'low man on the totem pole, (but) we're ready to do it.'

When Blewett and others pull a Friday double and work 24 hours straight, the department sometimes stages a family get-together at the station. The meal allows volunteers and the department's three paid firefighters to spend time with spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends (there are four female volunteers) and their children.

Twenty-two people, only eight of them firefighters, recently had dinner together at the firehouse on a Friday night.

'The kids love coming down here and sitting in all the fire engines,' Blewett said.

Capt. Hank Seguin, 51, a volunteer firefighter for 25 years, transferred to the Suisun district in November. He said firefighters who are single try to take the holiday shifts so those such as Blewett can be with their families.

Seguin, who is married, has three grown daughters and a grandchild.

'Sometimes, you have to step up,' said Seguin, who worked Thanksgiving.

Families were invited to join the firefighters at the station for a Thanksgiving meal. Those working holidays don't have to do the usual chores, such as testing equipment, or even replace a faulty faucet in the kitchen sink, Seguin said.

When holiday shift firefighters are not out on calls, they cook or watch football on television, he added.

The volunteers train every Wednesday to make sure their skills are 'second nature' when they are in a fire situation that is IDLH: Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health.

He remembered responding to a call of an overturned diesel tanker on Interstate 680 on a foggy night. As he approached the scene, he said, 'You see what it is and say, 'Wow, it's burning.' ‘Two of the truck's fuel tanks had exploded and 'it's like a huge fireball. Very, very hot.'

With only enough water to keep the fire in check, not put it out, Seguin said there was just one thing he and a fellow firefighter could do: 'You just crawl on the ground and crawl back away. . . . That was one of the scariest.'

In any IDLH fire, Seguin said, 'You're not there to go die; you're there to try and save.' The most rewarding experience is when someone thanks him.

He remembered the look on a trembling woman's face when she saw that he and other firefighters had saved her home during the Oakland Hills fire in 1991. Hers was the only one of three homes still standing.

'Kinda makes it why you do it,' Seguin said with a smile.

Blewett agreed. Although not yet a seasoned firefighter such as Seguin, Blewett described himself as fully committed to his work as a volunteer. So are his wife and children.

'The families have to let us go so we can help others,' he said. 'Just because it's volunteer doesn't mean we don't come here when we're needed.'

'You're doing something for your community,' Seguin echoed.


Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at
cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Media: Suisun City creeks, canals cleared to reduce risk of winter flooding

For more information on City preparations and homeowner tips, visit Suisun City's Storm Information section.

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Only a handful of houses in Suisun City sustained flood damage during heavy the rains last winter, but city officials learned in April they had a bigger problem.

The Army Corps of Engineers notified Suisun City it was no longer eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds in the event of severe flooding. Some of the city's storm canals were so clogged with trees and brambles, storm runoff could back up when water flows were high, the city learned.

Suisun City is at increased risk for flooding because it has the lowest elevation in the county relative to the high tide line.

The few houses that had water damage during last winter's storms are located just east of Sunset Avenue on the north side of Canvasback Drive, and most at risk are homes located at the bend where Lauren Creek connects with McCoy Creek, according to the city.

To clear vegetation from the McCoy Creek canal and others, the city first had to have a permit from the California Department of Fish and Game. Federal officials and the California Department of Water Resources wanted better flood control. Fish and Game wanted to make sure species native to the area weren't compromised by the clearing.

To satisfy all parties, the city hired Anselmo Services, a subcontractor who specializes in satisfying the various agencies' requirements, said Lee Evans, associate city engineer and project manager. For instance, workers kept silt to a minimum as the vegetation was removed so fish eggs wouldn't suffocate.

Meantime, public works employees certified in proper application of herbicide treated tree stumps to kill the roots, Evans said.

'Our ditches are clear,' Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez said.

The employees have also been preparing the city for winter storms by keeping street storm drains clear of leaves, along with other measures, he added.

'We're really proud of the proactive role that public works has done,' Sanchez said.

Satisfying both the state Fish and Game Department, with its emphasis on protecting indigenous species, and the California Department of Water Resources, with its emphasis on flood control, was 'tricky.'

'The city walked a narrow line,' he added.

Evans remembers a time years ago when there were fewer regulations. Cities could simply clear-cut trees, brambles and other overgrowth, he said. He doesn't take issue with today's regulations, however.

'As a population, we must be more environmentally conscious because the planet does take a burden from us,' he said.

Both state agencies have now approved the work, Evans said.

'We no longer have to worry about losing our FEMA funds if there's a FEMA event, and God willing, there won't be.'

The city is cleared to be back on FEMA's list as soon as the Army Corps of Engineers submits the paperwork.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

PUBLIC SANDBAG SUPPLY

Sand and bags for public use are stockpiled in the parking lot behind the police department. The materials are available to residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Media: Suisun City Waterfront BID nearly disbanded

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Tempers flared at Tuesday's public hearing regarding the City Council's reauthorization of the Suisun City Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District.

Each year, state law requires that affected businesses be given the opportunity to submit a written protest that, if successful, would force the Business Improvement District to disband.

Owners whose BID fees equal at least 50.1 percent of the total collected totaling $17,100 for 2007 have to sign. [Blog editor's note: This assertion is incorrect. The total must be the amount that will be paid in 2008, which we project at $20,250.]

Early Tuesday, it appeared that protesters had enough signatures, including some from owners of Main Street businesses that face the water.

However, those in favor of the district secured retractions from four or five of those who had signed.

City liaison to the BID, Scott Corey, said the final tally at 43 percent fell short of that needed to disband the district.

During the public hearing, BID board president Garry Rowe suggested that those who retracted didn't really know what they were signing initially, and were 'misled' into thinking the petition, if successful, simply meant the BID fee would be waived.

Small business owner Ed Collins, who owns Collins Music and Collectibles on Main Street, said he'd been circulating the petition. He provided the City Council with a copy of the written explanation he said was attached to the petition that the owners signed.

He suggested that those who'd retracted had been 'coerced' and said, 'I can't believe we're operating this way.'

Rowe's wife, Laura Cole Rowe, had a dramatically different take. She told the City Council that she's worked with business improvement districts in other cities for 20 years.

Barely containing her anger, she reminded those attending the hearing that state law permits written retractions to be taken until the close of the public hearing.

'If merchants want to 'survive' in the same old rut, then disband,' she said. Those who support the BID 'want to be alive and thrive.'

Council voted unanimously to reauthorize the Business Improvement District and the reassessment of the fee.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Explore Suisun Marsh

Suisun Marsh is one of the great, natural wonders of the West Coast of North America. Suisun City is fortunate to be located directly adjacent to this terrific home to this rich habitat for so many different animals and plants.

The winter months are a particularly terrific time because of the annual migration of so many different bird species that stop off in Suisun Marsh as they navigate the Pacific Flyway. We have a brand new resource on our home page called the "Suisun Marsh Guide." Here you will learn how to safely get out into the marsh to discover this wonderful place and all the wildlife that calls it home.

Come visit us online, then make plans to come visit us in reality.

Kiwanis host Senior Center Christmas Dinner

Christmas Day may be a week away, but the traditional fare of the holiday will fill the plates of about 100 seniors this Wednesday night.

The Suisun City Kiwanis Club will host the annual dinner at the Suisun City Senior Center for seniors from all across northern Solano County. The festivities will include music by the Dan O. Root Elementary School choir, raffles and prizes, and a guest appearance by Santa. The dinner is free but the required tickets are sold out.

The FaST Lion's Club puts on 10 senior dinners each year at the Senior Center from January through October. The monthly dinner dance is held 7:30-9 p.m. on the last Thursday of the month for about 100. Tickets are $6. Sign up at the Senior Center or call 707-421-7203.

Take Care of Your Tree for a Safe Christmas Season

Suisun City Fire Dept. urges residents to keep Christmas trees watered

SUISUN CITY — The holiday season is a wonderful time for family and tradition. But it also can be a time of unmitigated disaster when a Christmas tree is allowed to become a tinder dry fire hazard or people burn gift wrapping in their fireplace.

“Residents should have their fireplaces checked annually by a chimneysweep and never burn wrapping paper,” Suisun City Fire Chief Mike O’Brien said. “It doesn’t take much for tragedy to strike. Fortunately, most problems are absolutely avoidable if residents just follow a few simple steps.”

Wrapping paper should be bundled for recycling or placed in a garbage can rather than being burned in a fireplace or wood stove. Because paper burns hotter and faster than wood, large amounts of burning wrapping paper can raise the temperature in a chimney significantly and ignite creosote that collects inside, Chief O’Brien said.

Here are some things all residents who enjoy live cut Christmas trees should do:
  • Use a tree stand equipped with a water reservoir and make sure to keep it watered. Live cut trees need at least a quart of water daily. If needles are falling from the tree, it is too dry.
  • Place trees away from fireplaces and wall heaters. Not only does the additional heat dry the tree faster, they are both ignition sources.
  • Don’t decorate the tree with candles or place candles near the tree.
  • Use only lights approved for indoor decorating on the tree. Inspect the wires and plugs to ensure they are in good condition and will not spark.
  • As soon as Christmas is over, get rid of the tree. It will only get drier and more dangerous the longer it stays indoors.

Disposal of tree after holiday season

To recycle your tree, remove all decorations, lights, tinsels and stands.

The Boy Scouts offers a curbside disposal service on January 6, 13 and 20. The Boy Scouts request a donation for the service of $5 for trees smaller than 6 feet, or $10 for larger or flocked trees. Call the Boy Scouts at 707-421-5308 for details.

Trees can be cut into pieces and placed in yard waste containers for pick up with regularly scheduled trash service.

Flocked trees cannot be recycled and must be taken to the landfill. Call Solano Garbage at 707-439-2800 for information.

Please do not discard your tree at any commercial/retail building, along the highway or other roadway, or store next to a home for long periods of time. Each of these is a violation of state or city codes.

As seen in the Vacaville Reporter

Media: Business owners pay price for promotion

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Carol Bogart Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Merchants in the Historic-Waterfront Business Improvement District discovered a little catch when they went to renew their business licenses for 2007.

They first had to pay their district fee, which is assessed annually to help the city pay for waterfront promotion, said Scott Corey, Suisun City's business liaison. The city decided to tie the BID fee to the business license renewal after less than half of the district business owners paid the fee for 2006.

A public hearing Tuesday at City Hall will determine whether the businesses 'reauthorize' the city to collect the fee. Corey said those businesses have until the hearing, which will be held during the City Council meeting, to file written protests.

The majority of the businesses in the district bounded roughly by the train station, Morgan Street, Kellogg Street and Civic Center Boulevard formed the Business Improvement District in 2003 to partner with the city to promote the waterfront.

Lynne Golden, who owns Golden Lotus Healing Arts Center on Main Street, is a member of the BID board.

'It was kind of rough,' Golden said, when the city tied the fee in her case, $300 to her business license renewal.

"December's kind of a rough month,' Golden said of the added expense. 'You don't have a choice. You just have to plan for it.'

Businesses facing the water on Main Street pay higher fees, in some cases as much as $400, Corey explained. Other businesses pay as little as $100.

'This is not a huge amount of money we're talking about here,' Corey said.

The city matches dollar for dollar.

Last year, the 88 BID members paid a total of $17,500 to help promote the waterfront.

Golden likes the concept.

'You're aware of proposed changes and progression of the growing of the city,' she explained. 'It just feels good to participate and be part of that growth.'

The business-initiated program a 'positive way' for businesses to partner with the city, City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said. More than 50 percent of the businesses in the district had to want the BID for that public-private partnership to materialize, Corey said.

The fees schedule was determined by the businesses, based on how much an individual business would benefit from the promotion of the waterfront. The City Council then adopted the fee schedule into city ordinance.

By state law and city ordinance, the fees can't be raised unless more than half the member businesses agree. Each year, a 'reauthorization' public hearing takes place to reaffirm that the city can impose the fee.

Last year, Corey said some business owners who objected to tying the fee to their business licenses and others filed a required written protest in a failed attempt to force the BID to disband. To succeed, such a protest must be signed by business owners whose combined fees represent more than 50 percent of the total annual assessment.

Some businesses submitted four or five signatures, Corey said, but only the recorded owner on the business license is a valid signature. When tallied, valid signatures fell 'far short' of the number needed to disband the BID, Corey said.

Some member business owners want the BID to disband because they disagree with any fee assessment, Corey said. Others complain the BID is ineffective. Corey pointed out that when the BID board meets monthly, often the only people in attendance are the board members.

Business owners who are dissatisfied should become board members at the next election, which will be held no later than February 2008, Corey said.

As the BID budget is structured, half the funding comes from the city's Redevelopment Agency and half comes from member fees.

Bragdon pointed to events such as the Waterfront Festival in October as the type of event the BID helps the city sponsor to promote the waterfront's appeal. BID also had a presence at the recent Old Town Suisun Christmas celebration.

For more information, visit
http://www.suisun.com or http://www.suisunwaterfront.com.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Media: Tricks of the tattoo trade

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Carol Bogart Daily Republic December 15, 2007 10:55


ARTISTS PAY DUES AT SUISUN CITY SHOP
SUISUN CITY - A huge stencil covered 20-year-old Ed Kalista's back.

Soon, massive 'dragon wings' jutted out from the large black 'spine' tattoo.

Tattoo artists Auric Goldfingers and Shawn Kalista Ed's father worked in tandem, converting the stenciled outline into a permanent tattoo. The work will take as long as six hours. Ed will return for yet another session to do the shading.

The time invested in a large, intricate tattoo such as this could cost as much as $2,000, Goldfingers said.

Shawn Kalista's interest in drawing surfaced when he was a kid who liked drawing space ships. The father of two and a Navy veteran used to have a sweeper business. Two years ago, he decided the 15- to 18-hour days were too much. His son encouraged him to pursue tattooing.

'Do you like to draw?' Ed asked his dad. 'Do you like to do be proud of what you do?'

The answers were 'yes' and 'yes.' Shawn Kalista, 42, and Goldfingers, 35, are longtime buds who perform together in area heavy metal bands. In 2006, the two took 'everything we had' and invested in outfitting Suisun Ink at 501 Main St., Suite A.

Although the two are partners in the business, Shawn Kalista has worked without pay for the past year. He served an apprenticeship under the more experienced Goldfingers to learn the craft. Their business, they say, is not a 'flash art' shop where clients look in a book and pick a design. All their designs are custom.

The first tattoo Shawn Kalista ever did was a bar code on the back of Ed's neck. The father described that experience as 'quite nerve-wracking. It was not fun. I had a son who would not sit still.'

'It huuuurrrrrtt!' Ed Kalista said.

Shawn Kalista is more confident now that his apprenticeship is complete. When he becomes 'staff' in January, he will make $100 an hour, plus tips, but only when he's actually working, said Greg Luzon, the shop's new apprentice.

Depending on the design, the artists can make a lot of money in a single day. Goldfingers said his longest 'marathon' was 9.5 hours. Now he tries to limit a session to no more than five.

The partners are sinking 'every moment and every dollar' into Suisun Ink, with plans to open another shop in Europe within two years, they said.

Luzon, 24, is a 2002 Fairfield High School graduate. He already has learned that a moving 'canvas' can be a problem. Luzon remembers inking a design on the abdomen of a friend who made things difficult by breathing.

'People will inevitably move, and we're not perfect,' Shawn Kalista said. 'The best carpenter isn't the one who doesn't make mistakes, but the one who you can't find his mistakes.'

All agree that an ad-libbed design is OK, as long as the client leaves satisfied.

Most do, they said.

Repeat customers often come in for a fourth and fifth tattoo, Goldfinger said. One client came in last week and bought two tattoo gift certificates as stocking stuffers, Shawn Kalista added. Luzon remembered the client and her husband who arrived with the client's mother, blindfolded, to collect her 'surprise' birthday tattoo.

Although there is no demand for 'holiday' tattoos, Goldfingers said, 'theme' tattoos such as Sept. 11, 2001, are popular.

Ed Kalista's girlfriend of about two months, Amanda McCraw, 21, watched patiently as Ed's 'wings' took shape. She has no tattoos but said her boyfriend's tattoos are 'hot.' Her brother has lots of tattoos, she said, and her mom had a Celtic cross tattooed on an ankle when she turned 50.

McCraw would like to have one, but she said they're 'too expensive' for a college student.

The shop is careful to obey state law: No tattoos on teens younger than 18. Shawn Kalista said he has a younger son who wants one now but will have to wait. The artists also remove sterilized needles from their sealed packaging in front of a client to alleviate any concerns.

Before Shawn Kalista ever put needle to human skin, he spent many hours 'tracing.'

'It teaches you how to follow lines,' he said.

And it pays off.

'You might spend hours working on the drawing before you ever put it on the person.'

For more information about Suisun Ink, call 427-8282.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at
cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Media: Suisun City YMCA to open teen center

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Nika Megino Daily Republic


SUISUN CITY - The North Bay YMCA will transform an unused room into a place where teens can hang out after school.

A $21,000 grant from the Suisun City Parks and Recreation Commission is making it possible, with $10,000 being used for the teen center and the remaining $11,000 going to other existing programs.

North Bay YMCA was selected as the recipient of the city's first Quality of Life grants after an application process involving nonprofit organizations that serve youth.

The aim is to provide a safe haven for students between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., North Bay YMCA executive Rodney Chin said. That is a time when most minors often find themselves home alone or on the street.

'That's a formula for getting into trouble,' Chin said. 'It's highly needed in this community in any community. It's in our mission to bring up strong kids, families and communities.'

The teen center, which is scheduled to open in mid- to late January, will provide games such as pool and foosball. There will also be a lounge area where teens can listen to music and chat.
Other possible services include tutoring programs and a computer lab.

'It's endless as to what the possibilities are on what we can do,' Chin said.

The $21,000 grant was part of a $30,000 grant authorized by the Suisun City Council.

Approximately $6,000 of the $30,000 grant will be used by the city to create a youth quarterly events and activities calendar. The remaining $3,000 will be distributed as individual grants up to $300.

For more information about the Quality of Life Grant Program or grants, call 421-7200. For more information or to submit suggestions for the center, call 421-8746.

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or
nmegino@dailyrepublic.net.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We've Prepared for the Storms

Suisun City Public Works crews worked since mid-October to prepare the community for winter’s worst, including:
  • Inspecting and cleaning all 1,264 storm water inlets across the City, including flushing storm water piping to maximize capacity.
  • Servicing all pumps and other emergency equipment to ensure it’s ready for use.
  • Filling 300 sandbags and storing them at the City Corporation Yard. These are ready to be moved to any location in the City at risk for localized flooding.
  • Staging sand and bags for public use in the parking lot behind the Police Department. These are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any resident needing to prepare their property. Here's a map.
  • Clearing out McCoy Creek and major storm canals.
  • Cleaning and preparing storm ditches that presented challenges last year, such as the one along Old Railroad Avenue. Additional rock was added to some ditches to further secure their banks during peak flows.
  • Increased attention to leaf removal from City streets.

HERE ARE TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS

Before rain starts:

  • Collect and properly dispose of heavy leaf falls on your property. Use your green waste toter to dispose of as many leaves as possible. You also may want to consider starting a backyard compost system.
  • Inspect the roof gutters on your home and other drainage systems on your property. Remove any collected debris and make necessary repairs.
  • Report any storm drains that appear to be blocked or otherwise impaired. You may contact the Public Works Operations Division from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 707-421-7349 or 707-421-7209.
  • If your property is prone to flooding, stock plastic sheeting and sandbags to protect your home against water intrusion.

After the rain starts:

  • Stay away from flood control channels. Rushing water is extremely dangerous.
  • Patrol your property looking for any blockages in gutters or drain systems. Remove debris as necessary.
  • Remove leaves collected in street gutters.
  • Don’t engage in any corrective actions that pose a risk to your health or safety. Call for help! You may contact the Public Works Operations Division from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 707-421-7349 or 707-421-7209. After hours, contact Police and Fire Dispatch at 707-421-7373.
  • Drive slowly and carefully.
  • KUIC 95.3 FM is the main station carrying Solano County emergency notices.
  • Check www.suisun.com for the latest information.

Media: Police train for active shooters

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Audrey Wong DAILY REPUBLIC

SUISUN CITY - The recent shootings in Nebraska and Colorado have local police departments reviewing their plans for 'active shooters.'

'Active shooter' is a police term for an armed suspect in the midst of attack. Local police pay attention to news of active shooters and examine how they would respond in similar emergencies.

'We look at our tactics and what we can tweak,' Suisun City police Chief Ed Dadisho said. 'Every scenario has a new twist. We look at what can happen in our city and how we can engage the shooter and mitigate as soon as possible. The bottom line is we don't want more people to get hurt.'

Suisun City police use teams of at least four officers. The responsibility of the first team is to seek out the shooter. Officers may have to pass wounded victims as they approach the perpetrator.

"They make sure they make enough noise,' Dadisho said. 'They want (the shooter) to know that they're coming after him and to stop shooting.'

After the first team enters, other teams follow and tend to the injured, Dadisho added.

Dadisho arranged in 2006 for his officers from his departments and others to take active shooter training. Officers practiced in the vacant Crystal Middle School. Most Suisun City police have had active shooter training, Dadisho said.

Supervisors pass on knowledge to the officers who didn't receive training.

Fairfield police took notice when they heard about the gunman who killed nine in a mall in Omaha, Neb.

The tragedy served as a reminder.

'We have a mall and we want to be prepared for it,' said Lt. Al Bagos, referring to Westfield Solano mall.

That means training, knowing the layout of the mall and brainstorming contingency plans, Bagos said.

In October, Fairfield police had an exercise in the mall where they dealt with an armed suspect.
Police train in a formal setting every two years with follow-up training between those sessions, Bagos said.

Training for active shooters has changed since the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, Bagos said.

Before that, only SWAT officers trained for active shooters. But the first police officers at the Columbine massacre were delayed because they were waiting for the SWAT team to arrive, Bagos said.

Since then, agencies have taught all officers active shooter tactics.

Solano County Sheriff's deputies are also trained for active shooters and are ready to provide aid to any agency that needs help, said sheriff's spokeswoman Paula Toynbee.

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


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Parks Commission awards grants

The Suisun City Parks and Recreation Commission recently awarded the City's first Quality of Life Grants totaling $21,000 for youth-serving non-profit organizations.

The funds were awarded through a competitive grant process. The winning proposals were all submitted by the North Bay YMCA, which will use the funds to support
  • Teen Drop-in Center, $10,000
  • Youth Life Skills & Leadership, $5,000
  • Jr. NBA, $6,000

The Quality of Life Grant Program was established by the City Council on October 16, 2007. The Council authorized $30,000 to be awarded in the 2007/08 Fiscal Year as follows:

  • 70 percent of the allocation - or $21,000 - was to be awarded by the Parks and Recreation Commission through a one time annual application.
  • 20 percent of the grant - or $6,000 - was designated for applicants to apply to use to develop a youth quarterly calendar resource of events and “things to do.”
  • 10 percent - or $3,000 - was set aside for individual requests, not to exceed $300 each, throughout the year.

For more information on the Quality of Life Grant Program, contact the Park and Community Services Department at 707-421-7200.

In the Vacaville Reporter.

Suisun City Looks for Public Works Contractors

Suisun City Public Works is undertaking a major safety upgrade project on Sunset Avenue at Railroad Avenue.

The project includes major safety upgrades at the railroad crossing for vehicle and pedestrian traffic, installation of a new traffic signal and interconnection of the traffic lights on both the Suisun City and Fairfield sides of the tracks to coordinate with crossing trains.

To get that work done, Public Works staff has issued a request for proposals seeking specific specialized professionals, namely materials and special inspection testing, construction management and a project inspector.

For more information, click this link to the Public Works Projects to Bid page. Deadline is Jan. 10, 2008.

Suisun City Census Facts

For those of us who live at least part of our lives online, we know that occassionally you run across a random link you just want to share. We have one of those today.

The U.S. Census Bureau has updated and added new search features to its Community QuickFacts segments. By starting at the city-specific link, you can search for Suisun City specific information through a number of other databases the Bureau maintains.

So start at the Suisun City Community QuickFacts link, and have fun exploring the facts and figures that attempt to describe this very unique community.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

New building at Rush Ranch supplements historic character

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC

SUISUN CITY - A recently completed, $1.3 million building has taken its place on Rush Ranch, joining such relics as a century-old wooden barn and a house ordered during the 1930s from a Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.

It's the new and the old. The Solano Land Trust wants to keep the pioneer character at its 2,070-acre Suisun Marsh preserve, yet also provide a jolt of energy. That modern building is a key to the latter effort.

Visitors will be able to go to a planned nature exhibit in the building. There, they will learn about the role Suisun Marsh plays in the estuary and the Pacific Flyway.

Couples will be able to hold wedding receptions there.

Researchers will stay at the building and use its lab when they come to learn more about the rare Suisun thistle and the various birds and wildlife of the marsh. Rush Ranch is part of the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, which helped pay for the building.

At other times, people who want to get away from the city for a couple of days might rent the building's dwelling quarters. They would be able enjoy the tules, sloughs and grassy hills of the marsh during the day, perhaps bird watch on nearby state-owned land, then spend the night in a room with such comforts as ceiling fans.

Finally, a caretaker will live there to watch the ranch and help visitors.

'It just opens up many new opportunities for people to be able to take advantage and use the Rush Ranch facilities,' Land Trust board member Bob Berman said.

To celebrate the building's completion, the Land Trust will hold a grand opening at 10 a.m. Friday. The public is invited.

Rush Ranch is located in the marsh on Grizzly Island Road, about two miles south of Suisun City and Highway 12. It is named after the Rush family, which established a cattle ranch there in 1864.

The Solano Land Trust was formed in 1986 and bought Rush Ranch in 1988 as its first major purchase. For years, people have been able to hike there and schoolchildren have come on field trips to learn about the area's Native American history.

More recently, Michael Muir, the grandson of conservationist John Muir, has started a program there in which people with disabilities can go on carriage rides.

Rush Ranch is great already, said Ken Poerner, land steward for the Solano Land Trust. But he expects the new building is among the changes that will put the preserve on the map.


"People someday will say, 'I'm from Suisun you know, where Rush Ranch is," Poerner said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coastal Conservancy each provided $500,000 for the building. A long list of donors gave smaller amounts. Scot Sheldon of Premier Commercial was the project manager.

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

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Main Street Bar & Grill Review

Solano Magazine's Holiday Issue is out on the street with a great review of Main Street Bar & Grill, calling it 'a new star in the local dining horizon.'

Here's what reviewer Charles Neave had to say:

In the last few years, the Suisun waterfront has acquired a solid reputation for good, affordable restaurants. But what was lacking was a place that served food taken to the next level—fine dining that’s still casual enough to fit into this town-in-transition. Now, with the arrival of the Main Street Bar and Grill at the corner of Solano and Main, the wait is finally over.

Anyone familiar with the Vacaville fine dining scene will know the venerable Old Post Office restaurant in the historic downtown. And perhaps they will recognize the name Soo Song, who is the owner. If so, they will be delighted to know that he is the owner and executive chef of this new Suisun restaurant.

Folks from the Napa Valley will be equally pleased to learn that his Chef de Cuisine is Jason Siebels, formerly of the ever-popular Bounty Hunter in downtown Napa. Both have brought a steady hand to an ambitious undertaking, and if recent visits and word-of-mouth are any indication, it seems to have paid off.

After spending two months on renovations it is open for business. Lunch and dinner are served every day except Monday in both the dining room, with its wall of comfortable banquettes and cozy alcoves, and at the full bar upstairs, which boasts a fine example of century-old craftsmanship on the centerpiece—the long polished wood bar itself.

So how is the food? In almost every case, quite good.


Read the entire review here

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Media: Toddlers take Spanish lessons

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Nika Megino Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Holding up two holiday cards, Emma Troutner asked 2-year-old Deven Lakhan which one he wanted to decorate.

'El hombre de nieve,' Deven replied as he reached for the card with a snowman.

Spanish isn't his primary language, but Deven repeated more than a handful of Spanish words without hesitation during his Spanish For Children class Wednesday.

Troutner has brought the course to Joseph Nelson Community Center to give parents an opportunity to expose their children to a foreign language. The idea of bringing the class to Suisun City originated with her sister, who teaches a similar course in the Contra Costa area.

Samantha Lakhan enrolled Deven in the class to give him an opportunity to learn something new. She said her son even speaks some Spanish at home.

As the children painted on cut-out Christmas trees, Deven repeated the Spanish words for blue, red and orange as Troutner helped him pour paint onto his palette.

'I want verde,' said 3-year-old Satchel Ford, pointing to a bottle of green paint. Next to her, 3-year-old Savannah Milton asked for red paint.

'Por favor,' Savannah said.

Exposing children to a second language at a young age can be beneficial, said Katy Milton, Savannah's mother. Knowing Spanish as a California resident can be a great advantage, she added.

Savannah has been learning Spanish at home, and Milton said she enrolled Savannah in the class to give her another avenue to learn the language.

Learning another language as a toddler comes with ease because toddlers naturally absorb a lot of information, Milton said.

'They're just little sponges,' she added.

Another benefit toddlers have is their willingness to repeat words without concern for pronouncing them incorrectly, Troutner said.

Using visuals is the focus of Troutner's teachings. With every activity comes a new word. As the children were singing a Spanish song, Troutner taught the word 'musica.' With the Christmas trees, the toddlers learned 'arbol de Navidad.'

'It's easier to visualize than to memorize a word,' Troutner said. 'It stimulates their brain to different sounds and different words. It stimulates them to learn to speak. It doesn't matter if they speak English, Spanish or Chinese. They learn words together.'

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or nmegino@dailyrepublic.net.

Media: Suisun City man gets California Medal of Valor

The Vacaville Reporter carried a story today about James Jones, a Fish and Game Warden and Suisun City resident, who was awarded California's highest honor this week for helping apprehend a suspect and save the life of a California Highway Patrol officer.

Terrific work James!

Link to Vacaville Reporter story
Link to Governor's official press release

Did you know? A local author!

Did you know that Michelle Paisley, owner of Yoga Junction on Kellogg Street in the Suisun City Waterfront District, is a published author?

She just wrote "Yoga for a Broken Heart," her personal struggle with heartbreak and loss that demonstrates essential coping opportunities through the disciplined practice of yoga, according to a recent press release.

We wish Michelle all the best. Maybe this type of book is just what someone on your Christmas list is looking for!

Media: Foreclosures a grave concern for Suisun

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic


SUISUN CITY - Remona Gainer remembers paying $200 a month for her HUD apartment in Fairfield.

Today, the foster mother holds down three jobs while also raising her special needs daughter and attending night school to become a paralegal. She owns a house in Suisun City and has a $2,700 a month mortgage.

Gainer has never missed a payment in the two years she's owned her home, but worries she could still lose everything she's worked so hard for if abandoned foreclosed houses nearby negatively impact the appraised value of her home.

In March, her loan agreement requires a refinance - one that could be adversely impacted if her home's value falls. Gainer expressed those concerns Tuesday night at the joint meeting of the Suisun Council, Housing Agency and Redevelopment Agency.

The widening list of foreclosures in the city is prompting city officials to look for ways to inform people how to avoid foreclosure, as well as how to get potentially poorly maintained properties back into private hands.

Bigger fees assessed against those who violate city home maintenance codes found a favorable response from several councilmember. Right now, Suisun City only charges $50 for a first time offense, compared to Sacramento, which charges $1,000.

The more than $8 million in the Redevelopment Agency's 'Set Aside Fund' could, the council learned from agency director Jason Garben, be used to subsidize first time, income eligible homebuyers, or be spent rehabbing dilapidated houses and apartment complexes, with 20 percent set aside for low and moderate income individuals and families.

State law requires that 20 percent of redevelopment monies granted to Suisun City annually be so-earmarked.

Garben pointed out that the city has largely run out of space to build new housing, and that rehabbing existing structures is a workable alternative. All agreed that Suisun City, along with the rest of the country, faces a glut of properties banks can't even sell at foreclosure auctions - because the loan on the property exceeds the value.

Finding a solution that keeps property owners like Gainer in their homes has to take priority, the council agreed. Suisun City resident Paul Greenlee told the council that he hears many neighbors and fellow parishioners at Calvary Baptist Church talking about being afraid they're about to lose their homes to foreclosure. 'They're basically in shock,' Greenlee said.

Mayor Pete Sanchez learned that many of the foreclosures are concentrated around Pintail Drive.

He remembers such homes selling for $47,000 when they were built in the 1970s. A year ago, he said, they sold for $500,000 - and today might not bring $300,000.

All agreed homeowners need to try to work with banks to restructure their loans at the first hint they might miss a mortgage payment, although the foreclosure can take a year or more.

Greenlee said lenders don't want devalued properties, and one suggestion was that struggling homeowners be allowed to remain in the home as tenants to give banks a needed income stream.

At press time, the council still had many questions for Garben, who said he would consult with experts to find the answers. Greenlee said of those facing foreclosure in his neighborhood and church: 'Alot of people just don't know what to do.'

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Recreation Guide Released

The new Suisun City Recreation and Community Services Department recreation guide was released this week announcing all the new and upcoming classes, courses and recreation opportunities for Winter and Spring 2008.

The guide, which is posted on the City's home page at www.suisun.com, is full of fun and interesting classes for all ages. New this quarter is a Spanish for children class that is sure to be a hit. The guide also includes all the information you need for the extremely popular preschool program that runs daily at The Nelson Center.

You can also register for any class right from the website using the "Recreation Registration" buttons.

Don't forget that The Nelson Center is a great place for a huge variety of events, from small parties and business gatherings, to conferences and weddings. The staff at The Nelson Center can help whatever event you have in mind spring to life in one of the premier venues in Solano County.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Nelson Center Presents ‘TIME BANDITS’ on New Year's Eve

Concert return promises to be a fun, safe way to dance your way into 2008

SUISUN CITY — Tickets are now on sale for The Nelson Center's exclusive New Year’s Eve concert featuring The Time Bandits.

Tickets for what is expected to be a very popular concert are on sale at The Nelson Center – 611 Village Drive, Suisun City - and at Ding’s on Texas Street in Fairfield. Prices are $110 per couple or $65 for single tickets.

“This is going to be a terrific event,” said Mick Jessop, Suisun City Recreation and Community Services Director. “It’s been a while since we’ve put on a New Year’s Eve event, and we are looking forward to The Time Bandits putting on a fantastic show as they are a definite crowd-pleaser to dance your way into 2008.”

Doors will open for the concert at 8 p.m. December 31. The show will start about 9:30 p.m. and run until 1 a.m. Ticket prices include reserved table seating, free champagne at midnight with a commemorative glass, a variety of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, party favors and dance floor. A no host bar will be provided by Ding’s of Fairfield. All ticket holders must be 21 or older.

Tickets will be available in advance only while they are available. For info, call 707-421-7200.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Santa Comes Ashore in Suisun City

From The Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Nika Megino

SUISUN CITY - Santa Claus arrived to town not by air but by water Saturday night as hundreds of Suisun City residents welcomed the holiday season at the annual Christmas in Old Town Suisun.

Lights, Christmas trees and snowmen were among ornaments topping more than a dozen boats at the event's Lighted Boat Parade.

Santa and his elves, all in red-and-white Santa hats, greeted families, couples and individuals lined up at the waterfront with a jolly 'Merry Christmas' from their red-lighted sleigh boat.

The crowd counted down the lighting of the city's Christmas tree, decorated in candy canes, as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus stood alongside Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez.

'Merry Christmas,' Sanchez said as he greeted the crowd with a smile.

Cheers and applause streamed from every corner as the tree was lit in multi-colored fashion. Children reached their hands out as drops of snow dribbled down.

Seven-year-old Sophia Valentino and 5-year-old Olivia Hicks shared their joy of the season as they sang Christmas songs freely along the waterfront.

It was the first time that Cara Valentino, Sophia's mother, had attended the event in 10 years.

'It's better. It was beautiful,' said Valentino, adding that it's beginning to feel like Christmas.

'Having the water and having the boats is unique.'
Peter Valentino, the head of the Valentino clan, expressed his pride in how Suisun City rings in the holidays.

'It was great to see a lot of people come out and have that sense of community again,' Cara Valentino said.

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or nmegino@dailyrepublic.net.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Boat parade among highlights of Suisun City Christmas festivities

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic
SUISUN CITY - Their yacht's so big Don and Barbara Sefcik 'only' strung Christmas lights around the deck. They also put wreathes in the windows and festoon the top with six, count 'em six, decorated trees.

Some of the smaller boats at the Suisun City Marina and Solano Yacht Club, Don Sefcik pointed out, will be literally covered in lights stem to stern in preparation for the annual holiday Boat Parade of Lights on Saturday.

The party begins on the boats at 4 p.m. Shortly after 5 p.m., the boats will simultaneously turn on their holiday lights and make two passes through the harbor. A pontoon boat lit to look like a sleigh will deposit Santa Claus at the public dock at 5:30 p.m.

Santa will light the city's Christmas tree at the end of Solano Street, and there will be a fireworks show over the marina.

The Sefciks have been berthing boats in the Suisun City marina and participating in the Boat Parade since before the current harbor was built in 1994. When the marina was under construction, Don Sefcik told the then-harbormaster that he wanted to be on the waiting list for a slip.

Told there was no such list, his response was, 'We ought to start one.' His name was the first on it.

Don and Barbara Sefcik, married 23 years with six grown kids between them, bought their 57-foot yacht two years ago when they sold their Fairfield house in which they lived for 31 years. When they're not on the yacht, they live in an Oakley waterfront condo in which, through those years, they have also spent a lot of time.

Swapping the four-bedroom house for the yacht, a fixer-upper, wasn't a difficult decision, both said. Barbara Sefcik, 63, comes to Fairfield two or three times a week to work in the deli the two still own at the courthouse. Don Sefcik, 70, helps out with maintenance at the yacht club one or two days a week.

When they're here, they live on the yacht. There are three bedrooms, and each has a bathroom.

After the parade Saturday, member boats and others will drop anchor for a potluck spaghetti feed. The parade started 20 years ago and has become a tradition, drawing 15 or more boats. This year, as many as 25 are expected to participate.

Taking a break from boat decorating, Barbara Sefcik gazed out the expansive windows of her spacious on-deck living room. Viewing the acres of open water, blue sky and array of vessels, she remembered the years of hard work that have resulted in this dream life.

'We're lucky,' she said, with a smile of contentment.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Suisun City Council to focus on foreclosures

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Carol Bogart

SUISUN CITY - Buying a home in Suisun City may soon be more affordable as a result of the growing tide of foreclosures in the city.

As of Nov. 27, 21 percent of Suisun City properties on the Multiple Listing Service are bank-owned, according to MLS foreclosure statistics, compared with 18 percent in Solano County. Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez said more than 10 percent of the county's foreclosures are in Suisun City.

'It's something we really have to address aggressively,' Sanchez said.

Sanchez believes one solution could come from money the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency has set aside for affordable housing. State law requires that 20 percent of tax money collected for redevelopment be set aside for that purpose. Currently, Sanchez said, there is $8 million in the Housing Set Aside fund.

If the city doesn't use the money for affordable housing, the state could put a hold on money earmarked for redevelopment projects the city wants, Sanchez said.

Sanchez would like to see the city subsidize by $80,000 to $100,000 the purchase price of homes for sale in the $320,000 range. This, he said, would allow private sales to those who might not otherwise be able to afford homes and keep some houses out of foreclosure.

Suisun City's bank-owned properties will be a topic of discussion at the City Council meeting Tuesday. The discussion will focus on how the city can shape policy to stem the foreclosure tide and take steps to help residents deal with possible crime, code enforcement and declining property values when neighbors abandon foreclosed properties.

Already, Sanchez said, the city has had one or two instances in which homeless people have tried to occupy an abandoned foreclosed structure.

If the city can free up money in the Housing Set Aside fund to subsidize the cost of buying some of the homes in danger of foreclosure, 100 homes in Suisun City could immediately come off the foreclosure list and cut the city's foreclosure rate by a third, Sanchez said.

The mayor, who worked for 23 years in the tax assessor's office, said the city has long referred to homeowners who fail to maintain their lawns and cut down tall weeds as 'equity thieves.' The modern version, he said, is banks that fail to accelerate moving foreclosed homes back into private ownership.

'A boarded-up house every 10 to 15 houses negatively impacts the city,' Sanchez said.

According to information published by the city, the foreclosure situation in Suisun City seems to be manageable right now but will likely get worse before it gets better.

In a recent two-week period, the number of foreclosed properties listed increased by 20, according to the city.

Among other things that will be discussed Tuesday are steps other municipalities have taken to try to alleviate foreclosure-related problems. For example, the city information points to the Residential Abandonment Registration Program in Chula Vista. The program requires banks to assume responsibility for maintaining foreclosed properties. Sacramento has a similar program called the Vacant Building Ordinance.

The Suisun City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council chamber at the Civic Center. For more information, visit http://www.ci.suisun-city.ca.gov.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Suisun City obeserves National Night Out

Excerpted Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Life on Buena Vista Drive is getting nicer these days.

"It's better in the neighborhood," said Luis Rivera who heads up the street's recently established neighborhood watch. "There is less speeding. The kids are behaving themselves better."

Rivera's neighborhood is indicative of what National Night Out is all about - residents and police working together to ensure small crime problems don't become big ones.

On Tuesday, residents from these and other neighborhoods around Heritage Park gathered there to celebrate National Night Out with a barbecue, children's fingerprinting and jump houses.

"The neighborhood watch there has really been expanding," said Suisun City Police Chief Ed Dadisho.

"When community members get involved, it makes our job much easier."

Three months ago, residents along Buena Vista Drive told police that their neighborhood was suffering from problems with vandalism, speeding and other crimes that they feared would grow.

Suisun City police responded with more patrols, more code enforcement on problem houses and a push to get crime prevention programs such as neighborhood watches set up.

"We have extended it (Neighborhood Watch) to some other streets in the area since then," said Keetra Welling who runs Suisun City's crime prevention programs.

At the last neighborhood meeting, city officials talked with residents about programs such as the city's home loan program that would help residents finance improving their homes.

"We have definitely noticed the police driving up and down more," said Buena Vista Drive resident Cindy Ferrera. "Hopefully, things will keep on improving."

Highway 12 finally getting barrier

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - The 5.5-mile section of Highway 12 between Suisun City and Lambie Road will be getting a concrete median barrier over coming weeks in an attempt to prevent head-on collisions.

Work is to start tonight and could last until Sept. 9. The state Department of Transportation will close one lane of the two-lane, rural highway between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. Workers with flags will let one direction of vehicles go at a time.

"We're expecting to have delays of about five minutes," Caltrans spokesman Keith Wayne said Tuesday.

Accidents have plagued the 16-mile stretch of highway between Suisun City and Rio Vista. Eight people died in car wrecks in little more than a year. Local lobbying prompted Caltrans in March to announce steps to make the highway safer.

The state double-striped the highway to make passing illegal, but installing a concrete median barrier - a step advocated by local transportation leaders - proved trickier.

Parts of Highway 12 are too narrow for a concrete barrier, Caltrans Director Will Kempton said at a March 26 press conference along the highway. The state instead decided to put a concrete barrier on the wider 5.5-mile stretch near Suisun City and flexible, plastic median posts along the remainder.

The concrete barrier won't be the permanent type that the state added to Highway 12 in Fairfield or Interstate 80 near Cordelia. Rather, it will be the K-rail temporary barrier often seen near highway construction sites. Workers are to bolt it to the highway.

K-rail is narrower and will fit inside the existing median, Wayne said. Putting in a regular concrete barrier would mean having to buy more land and cause further delays, he said.

Caltrans has already put in flexible median posts on Highway 12 in western Rio Vista.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Economic director no stranger

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)
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By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Jason Garben is Suisun City's new Economic Development Director, Suisun City Hall announced Tuesday, stepping into the job that interim director Al da Silva had held for almost two years.

Garben had served as the city's special projects manager for two years. He moved into his new job July 1. Da Silva will continue working with Garben for the next two years, according to Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon.

Bragdon stated that Garben "has the combination of passion and skill we need to deliver a vibrant, sustainable local economy."

"He's been involved in a number of critical and complex development deals on behalf of the city and the agency over the past two years," Bragdon said.

"Dovetail that with his private sector real estate experience, and his is poised well to serve us in this new position."

Garben's work has included the Main Street West project, the proposed hotel next to One Harbor Center, redevelopment of the south waterfront area and plans to develop vacant land at the end of Civic Center Boulevard.

"It is exciting. A lot of projects are happening," Garben said. "It is a great experience, and I am looking forward to it."

Water rates up for Suisun City residents

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)
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By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun-Solano Water Agency voted unanimously Tuesday for a plan that will raise water rates three times during the next two years.

The water authority, which comprises the Suisun City Council and the Solano Irrigation District governing board, voted to raise rates 6 percent in September, 5 percent July 1, 2008, and 5 percent July 1, 2009.

Only one person, Jim Wise of Suisun City, attended the meeting to question the increases, pointing out that the authority had approved several raises in the past and asking how funds from the new rates would be used.

"What were these raises in the past paying for?" Wise said.

Authority board members stated the funds will be used to rebuild the reserves to about $1.8 million, which will be used during droughts when revenue drops because residents conserve water rather than use it as much as they normally do.

It will also allow for spending about $800,000 a year to replace and repair older water lines and other infrastructure on a more systematic basis than in the past.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CITY MANAGER APPOINTS PERMANENT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

Press Release from the City of Suisun City

JASON GARBEN PROMOTED TO OVERSEE FUNCTION VITAL TO CITY'S FUTURE

SUISUN CITY — City Manager Suzanne Bragdon is pleased to announce the appointment of Jason Garben as Suisun City’s new Economic Development Director.

Mr. Garben, who has worked for the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency as Project Manager for more than two years, assumed the Director’s role effective July 1. He succeeds Alvaro DaSilva, who served as Interim Economic Development Director following the departure of former Economic Development Director Randy Starbuck.

“I am very excited and honored to promote Jason into this vital role for Suisun City,” Ms. Bragdon said. “He’s been involved in a number of critical and complex development deals on behalf of the City and Agency over the past two years. Dovetail that with his private sector real estate experience and he is poised well to serve us in this new position.”

“Jason has the combination of passion and skill we need to deliver on the City Council’s priority of building a vibrant, sustainable local economy,” Ms. Bragdon said.

Since joining the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency, Mr. Garben was instrumental in negotiating and implementing the Main Street West disposition and development agreement, recruiting and negotiating with developers for RDA-owned property on Highway 12 near the Sunset Shopping Center, facilitating the development of the proposed Hampton Inn & Suites in the Waterfront District, negotiating terms and facilitating the proposed residential development at the south end of Civic Center Boulevard, and overseeing redevelopment of two Morgan Street parcels as live-work units.

Mr. Garben also represents Suisun City in regular recruiting trips seeking developers and tenants for a wide range of business opportunities in the City.

“My focus will remain on keeping projects in the pipeline moving forward, and on working toward bringing new business and investment to Suisun City,” Mr. Garben said. “Suisun City has been through so many exciting changes in the past 10 to 15 years. Now, we’ve got to bring in the final components to ensure a strong local economy for years to come.”

A fifth generation Solano County native, Mr. Garben has deep local roots. He earned a bachelors degree in Business Administration with a concentration in real estate finance and a minor in economics from San Diego State University. Prior to joining Suisun City in 2005, he spent approximately six years in the private sector working in the commercial real estate field.

Mr. DaSilva will continue to work part-time within the Department to provide specific expertise on a project-by-project basis.

Investment in education pays off

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)
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By Ines Bebea

SUISUN CITY - Doyle Wiseman takes pride in being a product of local schools. His success as president of the Wiseman Co. is a testament to what the Fairfield Suisun Unified School District can accomplish, when given the right tools.

For the past six years, the Wiseman Co. has organized a Fourth of July fundraiser for Crescent Elementary School in Suisun City. For the Armijo High School graduate, his participation in the principal for a day program a few years ago was the catalyst to understanding how teachers did their work with limited resources.

By investing in public education, Wiseman says, his company is investing in the community's future.

"I believe that children are the future, and the quality of education in Solano County impacts the people who live here, and the ones who want to live here," said Wiseman, who graduated from the UC Berkeley with a degree in business administration. "We need to help the schools, and that makes for a better community."

Wal-Mart report delayed

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)
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By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - It will be August when Suisun City residents get their first look at the draft report on how building a Wal-Mart Supercenter in eastern Suisun will affect the area.

Suisun City's Planning Department hoped to release the draft environmental Impact report on the proposed store this month but have pushed back the date. "We are now looking at first week of August," Suisun City Planning Director Heather McCollister said.

Wal-Mart wants to build a 230,000-square-foot supercenter just west of Walters Road and north of Highway 12.

Water authority to vote on rate increase in Suisun

Excerpted from Daily Republic (Subscription required)
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By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City residents will be paying more for their water next year if the Suisun-Solano Water Authority approves a plan to raise rates this fall as well as in 2008 and 2009.

The water authority, which comprises the Suisun City Council and the Solano Irrigation District governing board, wants to raise rates 6 percent in September, 5 percent July 1, 2008, and 5 percent July 1, 2009.

"We have gotten no formal protests yet," Suisun City Financial Services Officer Mark Joseph said. "I am a little surprised."

The authority announced the increases two months ago and held a community meeting June 26, which only a dozen residents attended to give their input.

Even after the increases, Suisun City residents will still be paying less for their water than their neighbors in Fairfield but more than Vacaville residents, according to Joseph.