Thursday, January 31, 2008

Decision day looms on Wal-Mart's plan

By Danny Bernardini/Vacaville Reporter Staff Writer

SUISUN CITY - If members of the Suisun City Council seem busy in the next two weeks, it may be that they are brushing up on 1,600 pages of environmental documents surrounding the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Those documents, and more, will be considered when the council meets Feb. 12 to decide the fate of the proposed Supercenter on Walters Road near Highway 12.

The Suisun City Planning Commission, acting in an advisory roll, unanimously approved the project Tuesday night.

It is now up to the City Council, which will vote whether or not to override a decision by Solano County Airport Land Use Commission. The ALUC - a county advisory board - voted against the project in November, therefore the council would need a super-majority vote to override that decision. If the council does so, it then would vote on approving the Final Environmental Impact Report.

The proposal for the Wal-Mart at a 20.8-acre site near Highway 12 and Walters Road would include 230,000 square feet of commercial space including a 215,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter building, plus a fuel station with mini-mart, an 8,000-square-foot sit-down restaurant or commercial-use site and parking.

Tuesday's planning commission meeting, which lasted nearly four hours, featured a couple hours of public comment, overflow seating and some unruly behavior by a few members of the crowd.

Pete Sanchez, mayor of Suisun City, was at the meeting and was impressed by the public's involvement. "It seems to me they could have gone to the wee hours of the night," Sanchez said. "Both groups did it real well. There was civility and no finger pointing. That was good."

He said the task before the council is not an easy one. As for the hundreds of pages of reading, Sanchez said he has already labored through them. He also said he expects the council's meeting to be just as popular.

"That's no problem, doing my speed reading on legalese. As an accountant, I wish there were more numbers and figures in there," Sanchez joked. "I would think it would be more of the same (at the council meeting). The opponents are probably in the line of thinking that the council will approve it."

Also at Tuesday night's meeting was councilman Sam Derting. He said the crowd as a whole behaved itself and opponents didn't raise many issues that contradicted the EIR.

"I was pleasantly surprised there were supporters from both sides," Derting said. "I thought it went well. It was a lot calmer than I thought it would be. Most of the stuff (opponents) have brought up have been emotional issues rather than things detrimental to the environment."

Derting, although not stating how he would vote on Feb. 12, said after reading the documents that he is satisfied that many of the concerns - safety, traffic and environmental issues - are addressed in the EIR. Derting said he expects a heated meeting.

"We're probably going to get a little bit harsher treatment," he said. "I've not seen anything in there that is hard and detrimental to the community."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at county@thereporter.com.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Suisun City Releases Bid Package for Key Sunset Avenue Upgrades

The Suisun City Public Works Department has issued the bid package this week for a $3 million to $5 million project to improve the railroad crossing on Sunset Avenue, and install new coordinated traffic signals at the Sunset and Railroad Avenue intersections.

This busy thoroughfare, which is the main north-south connection between Suisun City and Fairfield, became the focus of improvement efforts following a number of tragic accidents in which pedestrians were struck and killed by passing trains despite railroad safety devices that functioned as designed.

Last year, the City installed a number of new signs in the area warning pedestrians and motorists to show particular care near the rail crossing.

The new, permanent improvements will include:
  • The major project components is the installation of a Fairfield water line from Suisun City limits on Sunset Avenue to the existing signalized intersection of Railroad Avenue and proceeding west on Railroad Avenue to the culvert crossing
  • Installation of a new full phase traffic signal at the Railroad Avenue/Sunset Avenue intersection that will interconnect with existing Railroad Avenue / Sunset Avenue and Sunset Avenue / Travis intersection, including preemption with the UPRR
  • Installation of curb, gutter, and sidewalk on both sides of the roadway
  • Overlay, striping and a middle median with stamped concrete on either side of the Railroad tracks
  • Landscaping
  • Lighting
  • Entrance monument sign
  • Upgrade existing signal at Railroad Avenue / Sunset Avenue to a camera operated signal intersection
  • Both sides of Sunset Avenue will have ADA accessibility with a pedestrian/bicycle path on the either side of the roadway with safety crossing at the UPRR tracks separating the sidewalk paths from the roadway.

Contractors' bids are due February 21. The work will be scheduled after the City Council awards the contract in either March or April.

Wal-Mart gets nod in Suisun

CITY'S PLANNERS VOTE 7-0 FOR SUPERCENTER

By Danny Bernardini/Vacaville Reporter

Although their decision is only advisory, the Suisun City Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday night in favor of a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The commissioners voted 7-0 that they were satisfied that the environmental documents associated with the proposed store on Walters Road near Highway 12 sufficiently addressed any concerns they had.

The City of Suisun City Council now will consider the issue in a meeting set for Feb. 12. That meeting will decide whether or not the council will override a decision by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission, also advisory, which voted against the project.

The council would need an approval vote of at least 4-1, for four-fifths, to override the land-use group's decision. Because of this aspect, Suisun City Attorney Sky Woodruff explained, the planners' decision would be only advisory.

The proposal for the Wal-Mart on a 20.8-acre site near Highway 12 and Walters Road includes 230,000 square feet of commercial space including a 215,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter building, plus a fuel station with mini-mart, an 8,000-square-foot sit-down restaurant or commercial-use site and parking.

The Wal-Mart proposal has become a hot-button issue among Suisun City residents, it was no different Tuesday night. Extra seating and speakers in the lobby of the government center were provided for the above-capacity crowd. The meeting featured more than two hours of public comment that at times prompted commission chairwoman Barbara Meyers to ask the crowd to quiet down.

Paul Greenlee, spokes-man for the citizens' group Suisun Alliance, said no matter what the environmental documents contained, a store like Wal-Mart and the problems it would bring was not right for the city.

"We can make the numbers match as long as we want," Greenlee said. "This is not about Wal-Mart; this is about our city. It does not fit the city. There's another one five minutes away if you want to enjoy it."

Suisun City resident Bill Sweet said the city needs the expected tax revenue to further improve the area.

"We need to face facts. We are a bedroom community," Sweet said. "We need it for the variety, but we really, really need it for the tax base. I would like to stay in Suisun to go shopping."

Few comments were made by commissioners after listening to presentations by city staff, environmental lawyers and Wal-Mart representatives. Some commissioners asked questions relating to traffic and design elements of the store, but refrained from speaking further on the issue.
Meyers did thank those who spoke for coming.


"Whether you are for or against the project, what you've done by coming together is what Suisun City is all about," she said. "We need to continue to support each other."

Suzanne Bragdon, city manager, echoed those statements.

"I want to thank everyone who came out tonight," Bragdon said after the meeting. "Public communication is what makes a community."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at county@thereporter.com.

Media: Wal-Mart edges closer to reality

By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Hoots, cheers and applause punctuated Tuesday night's meeting of the Suisun City Planning Commission as speakers came out for and against the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The planning commission for its part came out for Wal-Mart.

Community Development Director Heather McCollister told the commissioners that planning staff had determined that the Environmental Impact Report and related mitigation program does comply with state requirements, and that the Wal-Mart plan is consistent with the city's General Plan and Zoning.

If built, the supercenter would occupy part of a now-vacant commercial parcel at Highway 12 and Walters Road.

The project, in November, was ruled 'inconsistent' with Travis Air Force Base by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission.

Because the city's General Plan, at present, is not consistent with the county's airport land use plan, Suisun City and Wal-Mart, as co-applicants, presented the proposal to the Airport Land Use Commission. The ALUC ruled that the project is not consistent with the mission of the base for safety and other reasons.

The last word, however, rests with the Suisun City Council when it votes Feb. 12 on whether to override the ALUC ruling.

The Planning Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to recommend to the council that it certify the Wal-Mart Environmental Impact Report and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program.

The commissioners also voted unanimously to recommend that the council find the supercenter project consistent with Suisun City's General Plan and zoning.

Without a recommendation from the Planning Commission, the council will decide whether to override the ALUC.

The project has been fraught with controversy and Tuesday night's meeting ran true to form, with comments arguing about a perceived 'encroachment' on Travis that some think could lead to the closure of the base, to the jobs Wal-Mart could provide area teenagers who, some say, don't presently have enough to do.

Traffic was a big issue during the public hearing, and some Lawler Ranch residents worried about collisions between Wal-Mart traffic and big-rigs on Highway 12.

Planned intersection improvements to be paid for by Wal-Mart, the commissioners were subsequently told, will make Wal-Mart-impacted intersections safer than they are right now.

When asked whether Wal-Mart is confident it can support both the supercenter and another Wal-Mart planned for North Texas Street in Fairfield, a Wal-Mart spokesman said yes, because the retail giant's current Fairfield store 'has exceeded expectations.'

Sales tax revenue that would help pay for Suisun City street repairs and public safety came up often during the public hearing, as did the local availability of discount prices and one-stop shopping.

Penny Hernandez, who told the commission that she has lived in the same Suisun City house for 49 years, said she now takes her 89-year-old mother to shop at discount stores in Fairfield.

Her mother, she said, 'has such a hard time getting out of the car going from store to store to store.'

Hernandez also said she 'has a 13-year-old daughter who may one day benefit from having a place to work.'

Others said if the council votes to override the ALUC, it will be a 'betrayal' of the many residents who vehemently oppose the Wal-Mart project.

In the Draft EIR, 60 percent of the 240 people who submitted comments opposed the project.

The Wal-Mart EIR and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program can be read in full online at www.suisun.com.

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

Media: Nothing square about dancing for students

By Nika Megino | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Six-year-olds Don Cisneros and Alexia Cardoso didn't let the rain dampen their dancing feet Tuesday.

The two Dan O. Root Elementary School students were paired together for physical education specialist Barbara Aiken's square dancing lesson.

'Now, this is the one!' yelled Don as the familiar music playing directed the children to circle to the right.

Students in two first-grade classes paired with one another as they practiced basic square dancing moves, including the promenade, do-si-do and swing.

Aiken has been teaching square dancing in her P.E. classes since she started working at Dan O. Root Elementary 18 years ago.

The rhythmic exercise finds its way into her lesson plans whenever the weather prohibits outdoor activity. This year's lesson has been going for three weeks.

'It's a good indoor activity. Their heart rate is up. We're constantly moving for 25 minutes,' Aiken said.

But there is more to the activity than the physical benefits, Aiken said.

'Square dancing is about socializing, and it's listening and following directions,' Aiken said. 'I think that is the heart of square dancing.'

Each student is asked to pick a partner of the opposite sex from another class. Each physical education period involves at least two classes.

Aiken said having the students pick their partners promotes interaction and boosts self-esteem. The students must listen to the directions called by Aiken or the music to master the art of square dancing.

The lessons are taught to all students in grades 1-6. The older students actually dance in a square, whereas younger students dance as a class in a large rectangle.

Don smiled and laughed as he clapped and stomped along with the music. He said the clap and stomp moves are his favorites.

'It's kind of fun,' Alexia said about the dance overall.

Don and Alexia said they also have fun interacting with schoolmates from different classes.

Mekhi Rojas, 6, and Abigail Meza, 7, said the directions are easy to follow.

Square dancing is a universal dance, said Aiken, who explained that the calls used in the United States are the same calls used in other countries such as China.

'It's a lifetime skill,' Aiken said.

Students at Dan O. Root Elementary will show off their skills and invite their parents to learn the dance at the school's Square Dancing Family Night. The event will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Dan O. Root Elementary, 820 Harrier Drive.

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

Sewage board to have district run plant

By Barry Eberling DAILY REPUBLIC

FAIRFIELD - For more than three decades, the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District has hired a company to run and maintain the Chadbourne Road sewage plant on the edge of Suisun Marsh.

That will soon change. The sewer district board, which consists of the city councils of Fairfield and Suisun City, decided Monday that the district should do the job itself.


The board voted unanimously to notify New Jersey-based United Water that it is canceling the operations contract.

Fairfield and Suisun City residents won't see any differences, district Assistant General Manager Talyon Sortor said Tuesday. But they could have seen higher sewer bills if the district didn't move to operate the plant itself, he said.

Among other things, district research showed there are only three companies that could run the local plant. That compares with five during the 1990s. Less competition could lead to higher prices for contract operators, a district report stated.

'One reason we did this was to maintain stable rates,' Sortor said.

Also, the district is ultimately responsible for what happens at the plant, particularly in the regulatory area, Board President and Suisun City Councilman Mike Segala said.

'So we might as well go and bring it in-house,' he said.

Major sewage plants in Vacaville, Vallejo and Napa are run by public agencies, Sortor said. Fewer than 5 percent of sewage plants nationwide are operated by contractors, he added.

Sortor stressed the move is no reflection on United Water, which he said is doing a good job.

The district needs about 35 workers to operate and maintain the plant. Segala said the workers already there under the United Water contract are very competent.

'We're hoping all of them will say, 'Yes, let's go and stay with the district,'' Segala said.

Many of the day-to-day workers have been at the plant under different contractors, some for as long as 20 years, Sortor said. The contractor brings in three to four managers, he said.

Fairfield-Suisun will work with United Water on the transfer, Sortor said, and the district could take over operation in July.

The district spends $6.5 million annually on its United Water contract, of which $2 million goes to such pass-through costs as energy and chemicals, a district report stated. The district's overall annual budget is about $46 million.

When the existing United Water contract ends in 2009, the cost for a new contract would likely increase $500,000 to $1 million, according to a report by Walnut Creek-based Whitley Burchett & Associates.

Should the district take over, the risk is that retirement costs could increase at a greater rate than if the plant remains run by contractors. Still, the district operations should save 5 percent over contract operations in 2008 and 10 to 15 percent thereafter, the report predicted.

Also, the district is in a better position to compete for workers in a field where finding experienced people is growing more difficult, the report stated.

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

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Media: Economy prompts developer to scale back size of Suisun City houses

By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Calling it an 'edgy time in the housing market,' Main Street West Partners developer Mike Rice said new homes to be built on Lotz Way will be smaller than originally planned.

The development will add 16 homes to Suisun City's housing stock. They will be constructed on an empty lot at the northeast corner of Civic Center Drive and Lotz Way.

Originally, Main Street West was going to build homes ranging from 1,900 to 2,100 square feet. Saying this is 'the toughest market we've seen in 16 years,' Rice said the houses now have been scaled back to 1,600 to 2,000 square feet.

'We have to deliver to the consumer a lot of product at a very good price,' Rice said.

The Suisun City Planning Commission has recommended the city approve the project, and the city and Main Street West are hammering out the details

Councilman Mike Segala said the cost of construction per square foot in Suisun City is about $225 to $250, so the reduction in size would cut the purchase price per home by about $2,000 to $5,000.

Main Street West is working with the city on a new program that will assist first-time homebuyers with their down payments, Rice added.

'Within the next few months, there will be some exciting housing news on the horizon,' Rice said. 'Stay tuned.'

The new Lotz Way homes would be compatible in design with Victorian Harbor homes on the south side of the street, Segala said.

Each of the new homes will have a freestanding garage that backs up to what Segala called 'private courtyards.'

What some would call an alley will be 20 feet wide, Segala said, wide enough to let two cars pass

Plans call for the narrow 30-foot-long lots to have a small backyard, and the homes will sit on a slight rise buttressed by a retaining wall to protect them from potential flooding.

Rice assured the Suisun City Council at its Jan. 15 meeting that fences would separate the lots, the homes would have porches with balusters and railings, and care would be taken not to plant deciduous trees that, when grown, would block light from street lamps.

The lighting and landscape plans will be overlaid to make sure ahead of time that mature trees won't have to be 'butchered' to accommodate the street lights, Segala added.

Councilwoman Jane Day asked Rice if any one-story homes were planned, but Rice said that isn't possible. With the narrow lots, a one-story house would mean no backyard.

Segala expressed concern about the width of sidewalks that Rice said, as planned, would be 4 feet. Segala said he would like to see 6-foot-wide sidewalks throughout the city to accommodate both pedestrians and wheelchairs, noting he's very sensitive to Americans with Disabilities Act concerns.

The lot sizes, however, will likely dictate a compromise width of 5 feet, Segala said.

Alley parking has been a 'major problem' with Victorian Harbor, Segala said, so courtyard parking behind the new homes will be prohibited.

Because the city would like the new homes to have a custom look, plans call for placements to be staggered. Front porches won't line up side by side, Segala said.

'They won't be cookie cutter,' he added.

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

Media: Suisun City planners to hold hearing on Wal-Mart project

By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic


SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Tuesday in preparation for making recommendations to the City Council regarding the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The Planning Commission's recommendations will include whether the Suisun City Council should override a November 2007 decision by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission, which ruled the proposed Wal-Mart site is 'incompatible' with Travis Air Force Base.

The city has contended the project is consistent with the mission of the base. Travis officials have said the base has no public safety concerns related to the proposed supercenter.

With a four-fifths vote, the City Council can override the commission decision.

Also Tuesday, the Planning Commission will decide whether to recommend that the City Council certify the Environmental Impact Report and accompanying Mitigation Reporting and Monitoring Program for the Wal-Mart project.

The mitigation program outlines such things as who will cover the costs of improving intersections around the site to address increased traffic flow.

Projected sales tax revenue from the retail giant would add an estimated $960,000 annually to Suisun City's General Fund and $175,000 each year to the Suisun City Redevelopment Agency. Suisun City leaders have said the city loses potential sales tax revenue when residents shop in Fairfield.

The money would be used for such things as street and other infrastructure repair, and public safety, Community Development Director Heather McCollister said. The parcel has been zoned commercial for 20 years, City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said.

Citizen and expert concerns about the project are outlined in comment cards in the final EIR. The EIR and mitigation program are available at www.suisun.com.

The Planning Commission meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the City Council chamber at Suisun City Hall. The next council meeting is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 12.

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

Media: Thunderbirds to perform at Travis air show in August

By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE - The Air Force's premier aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, will headline the 2008 Air Show at Travis Air Force Base in August.

Travis' annual open house will be held Aug. 30-31 with a host of aerial performances, demonstrations and displays of historic and modern military and civilian aircraft.

Also slated to perform at the show will be the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, according to an announcement Friday by the Travis Public Affairs Office.

The Thunderbirds' pilots and their F-16 Fighting Falcons perform precision aerial maneuvers to exhibit the capabilities of the high-performance aircraft and the high degree of professional skill required to operate them.

Their last performance at Travis was in October 2005, which was the last time the base held an air show.

Those interested in getting more information on the Thunderbirds can go to http://thunderbirds.airforce.com/.

The Golden Knights have thrilled audiences for 44 years at air shows and competitions in support of Army recruiting efforts. For more details, go to http://www.goldenknights.com/.

For more information on the 2008 Air Show, call the 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs Office at 424-2011. Vendors interested in participating in the air show should call Angela Bell at 424-3474.

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

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Media: Travis officials: Suisun City Wal-Mart is Safe

By Carol Bogart Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Travis Air Force Base has no public safety concerns in regards to the proximity of a runway to the proposed site of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, Public Affairs Chief Capt. Lindsay Logsdon confirmed Thursday.

Travis also has no safety concerns about the base's jet fuel pipeline that runs under and adjacent to the Wal-Mart site's Petersen Road border, Base Commander Col. Steven J. Arquiette wrote in a letter obtained by the Daily Republic.

Public safety concerns about the runway, which is 2.5 miles from the runway, were among the reasons cited by the Solano County Airport Land Use Commission in its Nov. 8 ruling that the project is incompatible with Travis.

Suisun City residents who are worried about the pipeline prompted the executive director of a national pipeline safety organization to write Arquiette and question him about the jet fuel pipeline's safety.

Suisun City Community Development Director Heather McCollister said Arquiette's response, dated Jan. 23, 'reaffirms all of our analysis that this project will not adversely impact the mission of the base.'

Suisun City has the right to override the airport commission's 'adverse use' decision.

The state Department of Transportation's Division of Aeronautics wrote McCollister last month to say Caltrans agrees with the airport commission's ruling, adding that if the city overrides the commission, the airport operator 'shall be immune from liability' for damages to property or personal injury if a plane from Travis crashes into Wal-Mart.

Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said the city isn't worried about a possible hike in its liability insurance rates in the event the City Council votes to override.

Opponents of the Wal-Mart project recently raised issues regarding the Travis jet fuel pipeline.

The Suisun Citizens League, led by resident Dwight Acey, is worried that heavy construction equipment and tractor-trailer rigs could compromise the integrity of the pipeline, leading to possible groundwater contamination and other public safety threats.

Their concerns prompted the letter to Arquiette from the Pipeline Safety Trust, which identified itself as being on a steering committee established by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The steering committee, the letter said, will make recommendations to Congress on 'ways to correct the breakdown in communications between pipeline operators, such as you (Travis), and local government planners that often put people at risk.

'... We understand that the military is exempt from the minimum federal pipeline safety regulations that apply to all similar pipelines,' the letter went on, 'but the military still has a duty to protect people and the environment near its pipelines.'

Arquiette responded that Travis has thoroughly reviewed the draft and final Wal-Mart EIRs, and that those reviews 'indicate the project, as depicted in the EIRs, should not interfere with the safe operations of our pipeline.' He sent a copy of his letter to the Suisun City Planning Commission.

Travis frequently examines the pipeline for 'operational integrity,' including 'regular visual inspections of the entire surface area of the pipeline route,' Arquiette added. Travis has a plan in the event of a pipeline malfunction or leak, he said.

Should the project get under way, Arquiette's letter said, 'We will work closely with Suisun City and the developer to ensure the project's construction activities and the daily operations of the Walmart (sic) store do not impede the continued safe operation of the pipeline.'

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

Grant to strengthen Highway 12 safety

By Audrey Wong Daily Republic

FAIRFIELD - More eyes will be watching reckless drivers on Highway 12, and residents can expect to learn safe driving tips in commercials and community meetings.

These were some of the details officials presented Thursday to announce the final approval of $1.1 million state Office of Traffic Safety grant that will intensify patrols on the section of Highway 12 from Interstate 80 to Interstate 5.

California Highway Patrol officers are working with police in Fairfield,
Suisun City and Rio Vista to enforce the new double-fine zone. The effort includes CHP officers in Solano County, South Sacramento and the Stockon area, CHP Capt. Sue Ward said.

The grant will pay for CHP planes to monitor speeds from above and also fund overtime for police and CHP officers. The state money will also help launch a public education campaign about safety on the highway.

Motorists can expect to have four to eight CHP officers working on overtime on Highway 12, CHP Officer Willie Williford said.

Williford is planning a town hall meeting during which residents can discuss the hazards of driving on the highway. He also has scheduled a meeting with Trilogy residents in Rio Vista to talk about new laws concerning Highway 12.

Williford also plans to teach teenagers about the dangers of reckless driving on the highway and is working on public service announcements about Highway 12.

Law enforcement agencies have started some efforts to reduce speeding and traffic violations. In October 2007, Fairfield traffic police bore down on motorists passing illegally on the shoulder of the highway, said Sgt. Dave Walsh. Monday morning, Fairfield police issued 25 speeding citations on Highway 12 between Beck and Pennsylvania avenues.

The grant will augment regular patrol on Highway 12, Walsh said, and police will be able to carry out more operations against traffic violators.

Motorists who receive tickets for moving or seat-belt violations on Highway 12 can expect to pay more because the double-fine zone went into effect Jan. 1.

Highway 12 has 70,000 vehicles travel on it daily and has been the scene of several fatal accidents in recent years.

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

Solano County one of America's Top 100 for Young People

For the third year in a row, Solano County was named Thursday as one of America's Top 100 communities for youth and children by the America's Promise Alliance.

Solano County is one of only 44 communities in the country to make the prestigious list three years in row, according to the Alliance website.

Suisun City has long prided itself as a great City for families from our diversity of housing opportunities, to our quality local schools and our dozens of community events all designed with families in mind.

Here's how the Alliance described Solano County:
"Solano County, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay area, is a community that works together by valuing its children and enhancing the lives of all its residents. First5 Solano Children and Families Commission is dedicated to promoting, supporting, and improving early childhood development by creating, fostering and partnering with community resources and programs that support healthy and safe children, families, and community. They embrace the creative, emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development as key ingredients to healthy children becoming successful adults."
County Board of Supervisors Chair John Silva said:
“Solano County demonstrates on a daily basis what it takes to be a great community for our young people. Quite simply, we put our children first,” said Supervisor John Silva, Chairman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors. “This county is proud that our steadfast commitment to our youth has earned such esteemed national recognition for three consecutive years.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BP Solar moves to Suisun City

The Wiseman Company announced this week that BP Solar moved into One Harbor Center, a premiere office building located in the Suisun City Waterfront District.

The announcement was carried on the Solano EDC news site. Here's the full text of the release:

The Wiseman Company is pleased to announce that BP Solar has moved their offices to their One Harbor Center building in Suisun City. Kirk Hull of The Wiseman Company LLC represented the Lessor in the transaction.

The company joins Solano Transportation Authority, Fiserv Insurance Solutions, Sheldon Gas Company and the law firms of Hillman, Lucas & Jones and Russo & Prince in this landmark building which has become the flagship of the Suisun waterfront area.

BP Solar is one of the world’s largest solar companies, with manufacturing facilities in the United States, Spain, India and Australia. They design, manufacture and market solar electric systems for homeowners, businesses and governments.

In fact, BP itself is one of the largest commercial users of solar energy in the world – they use BP Solar products at many of their own service stations, plants and offices. To date BP Solar’s modules installed worldwide will offset more than 14 million metric tons of CO2 during their lifetime. That’s the equivalent of planting more than 5 million acres of trees! For more information on how you can harness the power of solar energy, log on to http://www.bpsolar.com/.

The Wiseman Company is a full-service commercial real estate firm offering brokerage, development, investment and management services to Solano, Yolo, and Napa counties. For more information on The Wiseman Company and One Harbor Center, contact Kirk Hull at 707.427.1212 or khull@WisemanCo.com.

Media: Program grants wished for home improvement projects in Suisun City

SUISUN CITY - With a son soon heading off to college, Ricky Alcantar is looking to save money any way he can.

Last spring, when his front 'lawn' at 821 Bluejay Drive was little more than dirt and weeds, Alcantar learned of a new grant program offered by the city.

An avocational landscaper himself, Alcantar had intended to replace not only the lawn, but also other front yard features.

Suisun City's new Neighborhood Reinvestment Program provided seed money to get him started.

Anyone in Suisun City in a household of two whose annual income is less than $72,400 can apply for a grant of as much as $2,500 to help pay for home improvements that range from gutter repair to painting, program director Alysa Majer said.

In Alcantar's case, he commutes to Martinez to his work and is the sole provider for his wife and two children. Because his income met eligibility requirements for a family of four, 80 percent of the cost of his new lawn was funded by the city. The total cost of Alcantar's new lawn was $1,300.

To apply for the grant, he submitted three bids. The city allowed him to choose the one with which he felt most comfortable, not the lowest. Then, when the work was done, the city inspected it and Alcantar submitted his receipt. Within three weeks, he was reimbursed all but $260.

In the household of two, for example, those with incomes up to $47,350 pay 20 percent of the cost of an approved home improvement project or projects, with the city's 80 percent contribution capped at $2,500. For those who have incomes between $47,350 and $72,400, the split is 50-50.

Couples or a single parent raising one child are examples of a 'household of two,' Majer said.

Income-eligible landlords can also take advantage of the grant, Majer said, because awards are based on the income of whoever owns the property.

To date, one such grant has been awarded, said Majer, adding that the money can only be used to fix up the facade, or exterior, of a property to improve its 'curb appeal.'

'Cleaning up' neighborhoods was what prompted the city's Redevelopment Agency to take the grant proposal to the City Council in June 2007, Majer said. The first grant, Alcantar's, was awarded in July.

On the same day he received his 'approved' e-mail, work began. Weeds were ripped out, ground was rototilled and the in-ground sprinkler system was realigned.

This past summer, when all his neighbors' lawns were brown, Alcantar said his was lush and green. It looked so good, in fact, his next-door neighbor applied for and received a grant to help put in a new lawn and landscape rock.

Majer said that's just what planners hope will happen across Suisun City. 'A domino effect,' she said. To date, 22 homeowners in the city have been awarded Neighborhood Reinvestment grants.

Alcantar plans to apply again when he's ready to repair wood shingle siding on his home. Each homeowner can keep receiving grants until he or she has reached the $2,500 cap. In Alcantar's case, he still has almost $1,500 in the 'bank.'

When he told co-workers how he paid for his new front yard, he said they responded, ''What?! You have what in your city? I would love to take advantage of that!''

Majer said the program still has $57,000 ready to be awarded as 'incentive' money to 'clean up the neighborhoods by investing in the homes.'

'For me, it's been a blessing,' Alcantar said.

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

Suisun City Neighborhood Reinvestment Program

To learn more about applying for a Suisun City Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant, call Alysa Majer at 421-7345

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wal-Mart hearing re-scheduled

ADDITIONAL TIME MADE AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC REVIEW PROCESS

A public hearing set for Tuesday January 22, 2008, to consider the Waters Road Project, which is to be anchored by a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter, has been rescheduled for January 29, 2008, providing more time for public review of the substantial studies for this project application.

Mayor Pete Sanchez made the following announcement Tuesday evening regarding the Walters Road Project, which is anchored by a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter:

"As the public is most likely aware, the Wal-Mart project is
scheduled to be heard on January 22, 2008, as a Joint Planning Commission and
City Council meeting.

Due to the important nature of this project, we would like
to provide ample time to review the projet and receive all comments. Therefore,
we will be cancelling the joint meeting of January 22, 2008, and
scheduling:

  • The Planning Commission Public Hearing for Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 5 p.m.; and
  • The City Council Public Hearing tentatively for Tuesday, February 12, 2008, at 5 p.m."
To facilitate the public review process of this project, the Final Environmental Impact Report was posted to the City’s website on January 10, 2008. Staff analysis, reports and supporting information for the Planning Commission meeting will be available online on Friday January 18, 2008, and on CD and in hard copy forms starting on Tuesday January 22, 2008.

Click here for more information on this project

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Neighborhood Reinvestment Program a Huge Success

ADDITIONAL GRANTS ARE AVAILABLE NOW

Suisun City’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant Program is succeeding beyond staff expectations and reinvigorating neighborhoods across the City.

Since June, the Redevelopment Agency has issued $42,000 in grants leveraging almost $30,000 in property owner investment in beautifying and increasing home value in Suisun City neighborhoods. This $72,000 partnership has yielded 22 projects, providing:
  • 2 fence replacements
  • 12 exterior paint projects
  • 8 landscaping improvement projects
  • 5 other miscellaneous projects

“Overall the program is working well with exciting new projects coming forward everyday,” Management Analyst Alysa Majer said in her report to the City Council. “It is exciting for both staff and residents as we make small steps in transforming and beautifying the neighborhoods throughout the City.”

“At the end of each project, residents are very excited to see the end result. The beautification is something that would have either taken longer to complete or never have taken place because of lack of funds,” Majer said. “As we continue the program into 2008, we look forward to further reinvesting and improving the look of the neighborhoods and pride of the homeowners.”

The program has enough money available for about 23 additional matching grants.

The Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant Program launched in June 2007 with the goal of providing resources and incentives to residents to

  • reinvest in their home and neighborhood
  • develop partnerships between the residents and the City
  • improve the safety, appearance, and value of homes and neighborhoods throughout the City.

This program provides one-time matching grants, up to $2,500, to Suisun City homeowners to beautify and improve the curb appeal of their homes. Eligible improvements include:

  • landscaping improvements
  • exterior house painting
  • removal/replacement of fencing
  • other cosmetic improvements to the home visible from the street

The application process takes about 1-2 weeks once an application is complete. From there, the homeowner has 90 days to complete their project, but on average they have been completed before that deadline.

For more information on the Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant Program, visit www.suisun.com or call Alysa Majer at 707-421-7345.

Media: Crystal Middle School students build sailboat

By Nika Megino Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - The night before the first day of school, Raveen Bhatia dreamt that he would spend his days building miniature boats in woodshop class.

The seventh-grader at Crystal Middle School got more than he imagined when he discovered the school's Woodworkers Club was building a 14-foot sailboat.

Raveen is among dozens of students who have worked on the sailboat a project spearheaded by Jim Stevens, the school's woodshop teacher.

Stevens began the project in spring 2006 with a group of students who have since gone on to high school. They started from scratch, taking a popular design of a Zephyr sailboat, designed for use in both deep and shallow waters.

'Maybe I was a bit ambitious, but who's to say you can't push a little,' Stevens said.

The project has given Stevens an opportunity to share his passion with his students as they learn about woodwork.

His students have begun to share his passion. Seventh-grader Jacob Kiikvee said his experience in woodshop has been interesting.

'I had to learn it first. You have to understand it before you work on it,' Kiikvee said. 'After a while, it became natural.'

Eighth-grader Steven Nolde agreed as he smoothed the wooden frame of the boat with sand paper. Nolde said it's the feeling of accomplishment that keeps him interested in woodwork.

'Just seeing the amazing things people can do with their hands --it's amazing,' Nolde said.

Stevens and the students meet twice a week, focusing on a certain task each day. As Stevens measured a piece of wood, his students concentrated on what the task will be.

'I love it,' Bhatia said of woodshop. 'It's just a great program and Mr. Stevens makes it a point to get to know (his students).'

The sailboat should be finished in the time for the Fairfield-Suisun School District's annual art show, which will be held in April.

Stevens appreciates his students' enthusiasm and is thankful that so many have wanted to participate in the project.

'It's exciting to see this start from paper,' Stevens said. 'It's an extension of math and geometry and physics. This is applied sciences.'

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

Media: Pastor Jerry DeJong died suddenly Sunday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey DAILY REPUBLIC

SUISUN CITY - In an unusual move, the doors at the Suisun-Fairfield United Congregational Church were open Monday afternoon.

A few dozen people entered the historic church to console each other and remember their pastor, Jerry DeJong, who died suddenly on Sunday. DeJong, 52, had been with the church about seven years.

He collapsed after the service and was transported to NorthBay Medical Center, then moved to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek where he died about 6:15 p.m. from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Church member Donna Graber said DeJong had done an outstanding job talking about John baptizing Jesus and then sprinkled water on those in attendance, to renew their baptismal vows.

'He made it special,' she said. 'It was a very powerful service.'

At the conclusion of worship, he greeted people. When the crowd thinned out, he slumped in the back pew, saying he felt lightheaded, according to Graber.

He took a drink of water and got nauseated. A nurse in the congregation checked his vitals. 'It became obvious we had to call 911,' Graver said.

Ironically, there was a feast after the service to celebrate a church member regaining his health after surgery.

By the time paramedics arrived, DeJong was unresponsive, Graber said.

'Jerry was probably the most openly Christian kind of pastor I've ever had,' Graber said. 'He absolutely gave everybody their dignity. He'd give it back to you, if you didn't have it. If you were shy on self-esteem, he'd help you get it back. He believed in the best part of people.'

Elaine Clark, another member of the church, was with DeJong when he passed away.

'Jerry and I were really close,' she said. 'He was the most amazing person.'

She and other church members, and DeJong's life partner, Art Rivadeneyra, sang songs, prayed, read psalms and told 'Jerry stories' at his bedside.

Wilson and her husband Paul began attending the church about 12 years ago. 'Jerry made this congregation come alive. He made us think beyond ourselves. He had us focus on doing good things for others and challenging us.'

Clark, noting she has attended church most of her life, said DeJong was the 'first minister I ever really thought 'this is his whole being. He's not just doing this on Sunday.''

DeJong liked to remind the congregation of God's grace, Clark said. He even named his dog Gracie.

The church will find an interim pastor and has even had some ministers volunteer to conduct worship this Sunday.

'There will be a whole process to go through,' Clark said. 'We'll be OK. But there will never be another Jerry. This guy was amazing. He was so full of love. He worried about everyone else. He has given so much. He was the real deal.'

DeJong was a frequent contributor to the Daily Republic's Pastor's Perspective column. He had one slated to run this Sunday.

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or
amaginnis@dailyrepublic.net.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Media: North Bay YMCA faces financial fate -- Budget woes could lead to center's closure

From Daily Republic
By Carol Bogart Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Mike Hudson realizes what the future may hold for the North Bay YMCA if the center does not become more self-supporting. Hudson, chairman of the North Bay YMCA advisory board, said the center could be forced to close.

Linda Griffith, vice president of risk management and legal affairs with the parent San Francisco YMCA, said closing the 12-year-old North Bay YMCA is 'always an option' if the parent YMCA has to continue to shore up the North Bay YMCA's finances.

'With any operation, you want to make it work financially,' Griffith said.

Griffith said it costs $1.6 million annually to operate the North Bay YMCA. The deficit for fiscal 2007-08 was $530,000, she said, and the parent YMCA covered it.

This is not the first year the North Bay YMCA has operated in the red. To date, the parent YMCA has subsidized the costs of operating the North Bay YMCA by about $3.9 million since 1995, Griffith said.

Membership fees are a key financial component for the North Bay YMCA, said Executive Director Rodney Chin, and membership is dwindling. In October, the parent YMCA gave the North Bay YMCA 90 days to come up with a plan to turn things around, Chin said.

'We've been given a tenuous reprieve that will allow us to put together a recovery plan,' Hudson said.

Griffith said the North Bay YMCA has not been given a 'drop-dead deadline,' but the parent YMCA has informed the branch that its financial picture must improve. The North Bay YMCA must have its budget for the coming fiscal year ready to submit in April, Griffith said.

Chin said various ideas for reducing the deficit are being floated. Chief among them is making the community better aware of the programs offered by the North Bay YMCA.

'Some people don't even know we're here,' Chin said.

Hudson believes the North Bay YMCA needs to change its focus from health and fitness to programs geared toward youths.

'We can't compete with 24 Hour Fitness,' said Hudson, who added that more youth programs would result in more donations and grant funding.

The North Bay YMCA recently established a Teen Drop-in Center for at-risk youth, funded for a year through a Quality of Life grant from Suisun City, said city spokesman Scott Corey.

In addition, Chin said 150 youths play in the YMCA-sponsored Jr. NBA basketball program and many of their parents attend the games. Derrick West said he and his wife, Nina, haven't missed a game since their son, Dvon, first started playing when he was 10 years old.

Dvon, now 15, and his parents are all active members of the North Bay YMCA.

Chin said 1,700 paid memberships would be enough to support the North Bay YMCA, but current membership is at most 1,100.

One source of funding for the North Bay YMCA is its annual community support campaign, which Hudson said has raised $28,000 toward its $33,000 goal. Chin said that is encouraging because the campaign is just halfway through its fundraising cycle.

Hudson also is a member of the Suisun City Council. The city charges the North Bay YMCA $240,000 each year to lease what was once the city's community center. When asked whether the city would back off a bit, Hudson said, 'Undoubtedly the city will end up contributing to the Y, but the question is, 'How much?''

To pay off the lease in full through November 2017, Griffith said, would cost $1.9 million.

To trim the deficit, the parent YMCA 'wants us to turn up the heat on our donors,' Hudson said.

Griffith said the parent YMCA is working with the North Bay YMCA to help solve its financial problems. 'That's a friendly process,' she added. 'That's a collaborative process.'

Chin said the parent YMCA has promised to loan the North Bay YMCA the services of two grant writers. Hudson believes the North Bay YMCA should hire a grant writer of its own.

North Bay is Solano County's only YMCA. It currently serves 8,000 people. Both Hudson and Chin believe that if the North Bay YMCA does a better job informing the community about its services, and more people use them, more donations and grant funding will follow.

One example is the swimming pool at the North Bay YMCA, which Griffith said costs $275,000 a year to operate. The center's 'Splash' program offers free swimming lessons when local schools are on spring break. This year, 'Splash' will be sponsored by the Kiwanis Club in Fairfield, Chin said.

Service organizations are 'really stepping up' to help the North Bay YMCA whittle its deficit, Chin added.

The Jr. NBA is one of the best examples of urban services programs offered by the North Bay YMCA, Chin said. The program is aimed at youths ages 5-14.

Longtime coach Derrick Johnson said, 'I've seen some kids come in here with no discipline, some wayward children, some under the wrong influences. At the Y, we get to know the kids on a personal level. Most kids want to please us.'

Program director Deon Price said, 'The Y is a seed to improve the quality of life for these young people.'

Hudson added, 'These are kids who are focusing their energies on a positive.'

Players such as Dvon West and his friend, Darius Wise, 16, are positive influences on younger players, Chin pointed out. Wise is an International Baccalaureate honors student at Armijo High School who also plays varsity football.

West helps out with the North Bay YMCA's after-school program and last year was named Teen Volunteer of the Year.

A younger friend, Melvin Mason, 13, said he comes to the North Bay YMCA every day. He and his brother used to try to 'sneak in,' he said, prompting his parents to buy a family membership.

Two years ago, the North Bay YMCA had few programs for urban youths, Chin said. The new Teen Center, scheduled to open later this month or early in February, 'will give the kids somewhere to hang out and not 'intimidate' the Y's older members,' he added.

The North Bay YMCA is located at 586 E. Wigeon Way in Suisun City and is open to all residents of Solano County.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at cbogart@dailyrepublic.net.
More info: YMCA membership

A family membership at
the North Bay YMCA is $75 a month. A single membership for youths ages 8-17 is $30 a month. To learn more about other membership plans, call 421-8746.
Residents interested in serving on the North Bay YMCA advisory board can call board chairman Mike Hudson at 429-9794.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Final EIR for Walters Road project released

The final environmental impact report for the Walters Road project was released on Thursday. It is posted on Suisun City's website at www.suisun.com and at www.suisun.com/walmart.

The documents released Thursday included individual responses to written comments on the draft EIR and various appendices. Paper and CD-ROM copies of the documents are available at the Community Development Department at City Hall. A paper copy costs $50; the CD is $5.

A joint City Council and Planning Commission public hearing on the final EIR and the entire application submitted by Wal-Mart is scheduled for 5 p.m. Jan. 22 in the City Hall Council Chambers.

Rush Ranch to hold bird walk on Jan. 26

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)

SUISUN CITY - The Rush Ranch Educational Council will host a bird walk as a San Francisco Flyway Festival Event on Saturday, Jan. 26.

The event is free with no pre-registration required. It will begin at 9 a.m. and be led by local bird expert Joanne Castro. The walk will last about two hours. Birds of prey and other majestic inhabitants of Rush Ranch and the Suisun Marsh will be observed and discussed.

Rush Ranch is located near Suisun City, approximately 2.25 miles south of Highway 12 on Grizzly Island Road. The Flyway Festival will be held in building 897 on Mare Island on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2-3, beginning at 9 a.m. both days.

For more information call 422-4491 or visit www.rushranch.org.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Suisun City Library Photos

The new Suisun City Library is really taking shape at 601 Pintail Drive, right next to Suisun Elementary School and Hall Park.

The Daily Republic recently ran an article about the construction.

Here are links to some more pictures, courtesy of the Solano Count Library staff:

New library a novel concept

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

SUISUN CITY - When completed, Suisun City's first freestanding library will be twice as big as the one now occupying leased space on the second floor of a commercial building at 333 Sunset Avenue.

The new facility at 601 Pintail Drive will be 10,000 square feet. Exterior work is nearly finished, and work on the interior is progressing. The $5.4 million library is expected to open in the summer, said Ann Cousineau, director of Solano County Library Services.

The county will pay for the move, Cousineau said, and cover the new library's $800,000 annual operating costs.

The design of the new library incorporates direct access for students at Suisun Elementary School, said Rob Pierce, the assistant superintendent of facilities and operations for the Fairfield-Suisun School District. The school, located at 725 Golden Eye Way, will have exclusive use of the library each school day from 8 to 10 a.m.

Phil Kay, contract construction manager for the district, said the library property will be fenced and that students will be funneled directly from the school to the children's section of the library through a secure entrance.

The district, county and city have all participated in funding the construction through the combined use of redevelopment fees. Pierce explained that by state law a portion of the fees paid by developers who build in Suisun City must go directly to the district.

The district contributed $2.6 million, the city $1.7 million and the county $1.2 million. Pierce said all but $500,000 of Suisun City's contribution will be repaid to the city from future redevelopment fees.

To site the library, Pierce said the city deeded to the district a parcel of land in Carl E. Hall Park, which means the district owns both the building and the land. He said this is advantageous when the district applies for state grants.

So far, the district has not been successful in getting state money to reimburse any of the district's investment in the library, but Pierce said the district will resubmit its grant request in May. Any money it gets back, the district can use toward other things, such as modernizing Suisun Elementary or building a new cafeteria at the school.

The state caps such grants at $1 million, said Pierce, who added that any amount approved would be split evenly with Suisun City.

The new library will be able to offer expanded services, Cousineau said. For instance, the number of computers will go from six to 33. As a result, she said the county will look at increasing the time an individual can use a computer on any given day.
Right now, the maximum time allowed is just 30 minutes, which could increase to as much as three hours in the new library's computer center. 'A half hour is not conducive to working on a paper or a resume,' Cousineau said.

Pierce said the new library 'has been a need of the city's for quite some time. It's been a wonderful collaboration in terms of the joint venture.' An added plus for the city, he said, is that in a time of 'budget woes,' the city no longer has to lease library space with money from the General Fund.
Construction of the new library began April 2 and is projected to be completed by this April on time and within the budget, Kay said.

Cousineau said the new library's conference room will be heavily used for library-sponsored programs, given the facility's proximity to Suisun Elementary. Community groups can reserve the conference room for 'a modest fee,' she added. If the library co-sponsors the event, the fee will be waived.

Pierce is particularly proud of the spirit of cooperation that infused the library project.
'Everybody left their egos at the door,' he said. 'It's been a pretty phenomenal job on the part of all three agencies.'

Once the library opens, its hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or
cbogart@dailyrepublic.net
.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Hats off to homeless

From Vacaville Reporter
By Kimberly K. Fu/Staff Writer

KIDS CAN SEW GROUP GATHERS FOR ANNUAL MISSION SOLANO BENEFIT

SUISUN CITY - Scissors flew, needles dove and conversation flowed Sunday in a cozy Suisun City shop as children and adults put their talents and their hearts to work crafting hats and scarves for the homeless.

It's a project that business owner Catharine Anderson started 10 years ago as a way to give back to the community.

Together with her sewing team from Kids Can Sew in the Marina Shopping Center, at least 50 polar fleece hats are made each winter and distributed through Mission Solano, a homeless sheltering program in Fairfield.

On Sunday, Anderson's shop bustled with activity as participants worked assembly-line style to finish the snazzy two-seam, fringed hats and matching scarves.

Victoria Rohrer, a 10 1/2 year-old from Vallejo, took a brief respite from sewing to display a pair of pink camouflage pants with ruler-straight seams, a testament to her talent, others said of the shy youngster.

Meanwhile, her younger brother Joe sewed quietly in the background.

Fellow Vallejo youth Brandon Bichler, 9, modeled a spiffy olive-colored jacket boasting a skull design that had taken him "ages" to complete. Then, he hastily explained the day's hat-making process - grab a pre-cut "hat," sew, sew, sew, cut some fringe and voila! - before going back to work.

Up front, Vacaville sisters Kasey and Kayla Kuchinski and Fairfield resident Corrida Carr made quick work of their pieces. All three (21, 18 and 19, respectively) had taken sewing classes at the shop since they were 10 or 11, and all had been with the hats program since its inception.

"It's a way that I can use what I do to help people," Kasey said.

Her sister agreed, adding that the fact that these items are homemade make them more meaningful gifts.

They're also sturdy and warm, Carr pitched in, with a smile. "And I always try to help people when I can."

Within an hour, the group had whipped up 32 hats and shared much more laughter. Having known each other for such a long time, they seemed more a family than just classmates.
Ever tightly-knit, the group promised to be involved with the project, and Kids Can Sew, for years to come.


For more information, visit www.LearnToSewToday.com or call 365-4755.

Kimberly K. Fu can be reached at cops@thereporter.com.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sandbags and storm information resources deployed

OFFICIALS WILL WATCH PARTICULARLY HIGH TIDES THAT COULD IMPEDE RUNOFF

SUISUN CITY — Additional stocks of sandbags were deployed by Public Works crews and new web-based information resources were put online Thursday ahead of a series of powerful Pacific rainstorms pushing into the region.

A second sandbag location was added between the Fire Station and the YMCA on Pintail Drive at East Wigeon Way. The first-come, first-served stock is a supplement to the sandbags and sand available behind the Police Station on Civic Center Boulevard.

Public Works crews will monitor both locations during the storm event to restock sandbags as possible depending on other storm-related duties.

City officials also updated the storm information and preparation tips at www.suisun.com to help residents prepare for the storms and protect their property against damage. A new section was added to allow public safety officials to post live updates to the website during the storm event.

Officials also launched a Storm Information Hotline with information and updates. The Storm Information Hotline is 707-421-7744.

Officials encouraged residents to check the website and use the Storm Information Hotline to stay informed while allowing public safety dispatchers to focus on emergencies during this busy period.

During the forecast storm period, which is expected to last through the weekend, several higher than usual tide events are expected. Tides of more than 5 feet are expected at 11:09 a.m. Friday, 11:43 a.m. Saturday and 12:19 p.m. Sunday. Heavy storm flows in local creeks and channels that coincide with high tides can hinder drainage systems in the lower lying portions of the City, particularly in Whispering Bay, the Waterfront District and Lawler Ranch.

All drainage systems in those neighborhoods are at full capacity after crews inspected and cleaned them during a Citywide maintenance effort during the past several months. Homeowners in flood-prone areas are urged to be vigilant and secure their property with sandbags before flooding begins.

Public Works crews and City public safety personnel will be deployed throughout the upcoming storm event to respond to any emergencies that arise.

To report flooding conditions, call Public Works at 707-421-7349 or Public Safety Dispatch at 707-421-7373.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Media: Space heater fire burns Suisun City home

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Ian Thompson DAILY REPUBLIC

SUISUN CITY - A Wednesday morning fire gutted a home on Ring Neck Lane after a space heater fell into a bed, setting it on fire, Suisun City Fire Department officials said.

Suisun City firefighters were called to the 400 block of Ring Neck shortly after 8 a.m. to find smoke pouring out the home's windows and the house already involved.

All four residents who lived at the single-story home at the time got out without injury. The fire that sent a plume of smoke over town.

One resident first learned of the fire when the woman whose room the space heater was in, ran out of her room and said the house was on fire. Fire officials confirmed the account.

The man entered the bedroom to find the bed burning. He tried to get an extinguisher from the garage, but gave up the attempt because of smoke and because the fire was moving too fast.

Suisun City Fire Chief Mike O'Brien later stated the blaze started when the space heater fell off a shelf it was on and caught the bed and blankets on fire.

Eleven firefighters, three fire engines and a fire truck responded to the blaze. People and vehicles from Fairfield Fire Department, Suisun Fire Protection District and Cordelia Fire Protection District were called up to support the Suisun firefighters.

Firefighters arrived within three minutes of getting multiple 9-1-1 calls and knocked down the fire within 20 minutes.

The house was close to a total loss. The occupants had renters' insurance to cover their lost possessions which is a rarity, O'Brien said.

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

Media: Suisun City apartment project to include renovation, stiff regulations

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

SUISUN CITY - Linda Smith is elated to learn her apartment is slated to be rehabbed. The renovation could include energy efficient appliances, extensive screening of new tenants and stiff enforcement of rules and regulations regarding fighting and noise.

The 49-year-old retired and disabled grandmother lives at Crystal Manor Apartments, directly across from the old Crystal Middle School site on Cordelia Road. The new owner of the complex is Dawson Holdings Inc., a Sausalito company that specializes in converting old and in some cases poorly maintained apartment buildings into affordable housing.

Suisun City councilmembers have urged Dawson Holdings to work closely with the Suisun City Police Department as the company plans the Crystal Manor rehab. The city 'will not be flexible' on such safety issues as keeping surveillance cameras in place, Councilman Sam Derting said.

City leaders said when police sweep Crystal Manor, people with outstanding warrants are often found there.

Tom Dawson, the company's owner, told the City Council at its Dec. 18 meeting that the won't accept people with domestic violence convictions and registered sexual predators. Because of laws protecting tenants' rights, it's easier to keep people out through careful screening than it is to remove them once they move in, he added.

People who are on the lease may have guests who are not, and sometimes those guests cause problems, Derting said. Tenants in the rehabbed apartments will be told that failing to make troublemakers leave violates the rules. And if the tenant breaks the rules, 'they'll have to find a new place to live,' he said.

Crystal Manor and Continental Apartments, which face each other on opposite sides of Crystal Street, will get matching facades, in keeping with those of the 80 single-family homes Main Street West Partners hopes to build on the old Crystal Middle School site.

Depending on market conditions, the homes could be completed in as little as four years, said Mike Rice of Main Street West Partners. Families with children will likely occupy some of the homes, he added, and a small park without a playground is also planned.

Dawson Holdings wants to build a community center in conjunction with its renovation project. Dawson said services at the center could include 'life skills,' such as how to make a budget or finding employment.

Single tenants, such as Smith, and couples are the target tenants for the apartments.

By working with Dawson Holdings on the complementary exterior designs for both properties, Main Street West hopes to create a new 'gateway' to the city on Cordelia Road, which Derting described as the city's main thoroughfare from the west. Landscaping and 'low profile monumentation,' as Rice described it, would complete the picture.

The apartment tenants will have to meet affordable housing income guidelines. Smith, for example, pays her rent with a Section 8 voucher. Dawson told the City Council he doesn't think anyone will have to move. And because the work will be done in stages, tenants won't be displaced during renovation.

Continental Apartments manager Raymond Price is looking forward to the changes.

'It's just progress,' he said.

Smith called that progress, 'One hundred percent wonderful! That'd be a dream come true for me, it really would.'

The City Council likely will want to sign off on the Dawson Holdings plan, Derting said. Smith said she would like to see that happen 'as soon as possible. Right now. Today.'

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

Landfill EIR Recirculated

The Daily Republic and the Vacaville Reporter have carried stories in recent weeks regarding the recirculation of the environmental impact report for the proposed Potrero Hills Landfill expansion.

The landfill is operated by Republic Services, which through Solano Garbage, provides trash collection and disposal services for Suisun City and neighboring communities. The City has no jurisdiction over the landfill as it is several miles outside the city limits.

However, residents may want to review the EIR or participate in Solano County's planning process. To that end, here's a link to the EIR.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Suisun City police alert for New Year's Eve gunfire

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

SUISUN CITY -The city doesn't have a major problem with New Year's Eve gunfire but police planned to be out in force Monday to make sure it wouldn't happen, said Chief Ed Dadisho.

Instead of having three officers patrolling the city, Dadisho ordered 10 officers out on the streets Monday night to nip crimes in the bud. Gang officers and Dadisho were also expected to be out.


Officers were to listen for gunfire and find who is firing weapons. Police will take the suspect's firearm away.

'It is a felony and it's not worth it,' Dadisho said.

In many communities revelers herald in the new year by shooting into the air. But bullets travel high then land with force anywhere.

'It can go through a skull as easily as the hood of car through the engine,' Dadisho said. 'It's so random, that bullet can go anywhere. It can travel a mile away and fall a mile away from where you're shooting.'

When Dadisho was an officer in south-central Los Angeles, he often heard gunshots on the last night of the year. Last year Dadisho observed New Year's Eve patrols in Suisun City and heard gunfire. There were no injuries or arrests.

'We want to get in front of this instead of reacting to this later,' Dadisho said. 'God forbid a child gets injured and we didn't take positive steps to avoid it.'

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