Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Suisun City official expects dredging to finish by Thursday

Suisun City official expects dredging to finish by Thursday
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | December 29, 2008

The dredger Nehalem works on the final parts of the Suisun Slough Monday afternoon in Suisun City. The dredging is almost complete and is expected to be done by Thursday. Photo by Brad Zweerink

SUISUN CITY - Waterfront residents will have a quieter New Year's Eve after weeks of listening to two dredgers work nearly around the clock in the marina and Whispering Bay.

Roy D. Garren Construction of Roseburg, Ore., is approaching the finish line, with only some daytime work to do this week.

'They are 98 percent finished and there is only a little bit more to do,' said Mick Jessop, director of the city's Recreation and Community Services Department. 'There are a couple more shoals to be done.'

Jessop said he is very pleased with the quality of the work, which has involved clearing thousands of cubic yards of silt from the waterways to deepen the channels and alleviate boaters' concerns.

'This means we have good free passage for the entire marina and Whispering Bay,' Jessop said. 'We won't have to do this again for another six years.'

Results of a post-dredging survey are due in a couple of days. Jessop estimated that about 118,000 cubic yards have been cleared thus far from the waterways and deposited on city-owned Pierce Island.

The two dredgers arrived in late November and went right to work, clearing silt that had accumulated in the waterways for six years.

Jessop said he expects all the work to be completed by Thursday, making the depth of the marina 'right where we need it to be.'

The city requested a one-month extension of the dredging deadline after the Army Corps of Engineers required that a process be in place for Pierce Island to be turned back into wetlands should the city ever stop using it.

The previous deadline had been Nov. 30 so that breeding fish and other wildlife that depend on the slough would not be adversely affected b the dredging.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Monday, December 29, 2008

UC Davis shares $5M eye research grant

Monday, December 29, 2008, 11:16am PST
UC Davis shares $5M eye research grant

Sacramento Business Journal - by Kathy Robertson Staff writer
University of California Davis ophthalmologist John Werner and researchers at three other universities will share a $5 million research grant to continue developing technology for three-dimensional imaging of eye cells.

The National Eye Institute grant could benefit the 20 percent of Americans over 60 who suffer from macular degeneration and glaucoma. It is expected to increase understanding of the origins of retinal and optic nerve disease and evaluate therapies to treat a wide spectrum of diseases that lead to blindness.

The Bioengineering Research Partnership, started in 2003 with an initial grant of $5 million, adapted technology to see retinal neurons in three dimensions. The next phase will focus on enhancing the contrast of the images in order to see even the smallest cells in the human retina.

“Our project has been described as the Hubble telescope of the eye,” Werner said in a news release. He is the project’s principal investigator and a professor at the eye center at UC Davis.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Duke University and Indiana University are the other partners in the study.

Suisun hotel builders hope to open by summer

Suisun hotel builders hope to open by summer
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 26, 2008

The Hampton Inn & Suites hotel remains under construction on the Suisun City waterfront Friday afternoon. Photo by Brad Zweerink

SUISUN CITY - The builders of Suisun City's first hotel in decades are shooting to have the four-story building on Driftwood Drive and Lotz Way open for business this summer.

Having the Hampton Inn & Suites open in time for this year's Fourth of July fireworks is looking iffy and depends on this winter's weather.

'We are doing our darnedest to get it by then,' said Matt Sherrill, vice president of construction for Basin Street Properties of Petaluma.

Basin Street Properties is putting more than $13 million into the effort to build the 63,000-square-foot, 102-room hotel next to Driftwood Drive and Lotz Way.

Basin Street has been in business in Northern California for more than 30 years. It recently created a subsidiary, Basin Street Hospitality, which will include the hotel.

Basin Street is working with different major hotel chains to build a series of hotels near Basin Street office buildings and communities during the next five years.

Some projects include the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma, the Holiday Inn Express in Corning and the Hampton Inn & Suites in Windsor.

In Suisun City's case, it is working with the Hilton hotel chain to put the hotel near the city's downtown waterfront redevelopment projects which are being built by Main Street West Partners.

'We are very excited to come to Suisun City,' said Tom Birdsall, managing partner for Basin Street Hospitality. 'It is a wonderful spot for a hotel, very unique for the area and we really like what we have seen with the whole redevelopment effort on the waterfront.'

Basin Street has ties to Main Street West Partners Inc., the developer picked by Suisun City to jump-start the waterfront's redevelopment. Main Street West co-founder Frank Marinello was previously vice president of Basin Street Properties.

Once completed this summer, the Hampton Inn and Suites will be the first hotel in Suisun City since the 1950s when the town's last hotel on Main Street burned to the ground.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Decade later, library still fulfilling promises

Decade later, library still fulfilling promises
By Shauntel Lowe/Times-Herald, Vallejo
Posted: 12/23/2008 01:04:46 AM PST

A trio of promises made a decade ago stands fulfilled among today's version of the Solano County Library system.

Ten years ago, the system was gasping for air with a materials budget for five cities that had dwindled to $432,000 from $1 million in the early '90s.

Then came Measure B. County voters were asked to agree to pay 1/8 of a penny in sales tax to support the libraries.

Library officials promised three things in response to public request: more hours, more children's programs and more materials.

With more than a two-thirds majority, the measure passed in 1998.

"It took us from an era when we barely had enough money to open our doors every day to a real renaissance of the county library system," said Ann Cousineau, director of library services for Solano County Library.

Within this renaissance, the system has blossomed into a valuable community asset with eight libraries full of books, DVDs, magazines, CDs and computers for county residents to use.

The annual materials budget is now $2.2 million, Cousineau said.

As the economic crisis threatens county resources, the library and its supporters are fighting to keep it from turning back the page from the library's newest chapter.

"I think that we will get through these next couple of years," said Kathleen Ramos, outgoing president of the Solano County Library Foundation board of directors, which oversees the funding of projects.

Ramos said the foundation is using creativity to generate funds to support the library's programs, like literacy projects that encourage children to read.

The library is supported primarily by a portion of local property tax revenue and Measure B funds. Each city also sets up arrangements with its libraries to determine how much support it will provide, Cousineau said.

Vallejo, which has John F. Kennedy Library on Santa Clara Street and Springstowne Library on Oakwood Avenue, was given $400,000 in support of the libraries before the city filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. For this fiscal year, which began in July, the city is providing no financial support, Cousineau said.

The cutback in funding led to JFK Library reducing its hours on Tuesday and Thursday nights, closing now at 6 p.m. instead of 9. This was a small step back from the decade-old promise to stay open more hours. The library had been open inconsistently and for only limited hours each day 10 years ago, but now JFK opens at 10 a.m. daily, except Sundays, and is open as late as 9 p.m. twice a week.

Early closings on Tuesdays and Thursdays have shifted patrons to the much-smaller Springstowne Library on those nights.

Last month, Springstowne's supervising librarian, Juli Huston, said that on one Tuesday 800 people came to the library. A typical day brings 350 to 600 visitors, she said at the time.

The library has seen a general increase of patrons due to the economic crisis, library staff have said.

"People give up their Netflix accounts and borrow movies because it's free," Cousineau said.

Because of the funds from Measure B, the library has been able to fulfill its promise to provide more materials, like the rows of DVDs that residents can be seen perusing on any day of the week.

The library has also increased its children's programs, with more story times for toddlers and babies throughout the week.

Library staff and supporters remain optimistic about their ability to maintain the promises of 10 years ago, even though the decline in property values due to the foreclosure and economic crises is also bound to make an impact on their ability to serve.

Ramos, who is also a real estate agent in Vacaville, said it will be painful, but the strong support of the community will hold the library up.

"We have a very loyal following and we're very lucky in that," Ramos said.

To thank the library's supporters, the various locations will provide New Year's fortune cookies for visitors on Jan. 5.

Cousineau said increased funding has been helpful to the library staff, which she said was great even when there wasn't much money to go around.

"Now we've been able to give them the resources so that they can even excel further," Cousineau said.

Ramos said she is hopeful that the community will back the renewal of Measure B once it expires in 2014. Until then, she said she plans to continue to support the library system.

"I'm proud to be a part of them," Ramos said.

Happy Holidays from Solano EDC

Table of Contents

- Real Estate Roundup (November 2008)
- Featured Property: 5001 Industrial Way, Benicia +/- 220,000 SF
- 26th Annual Meeting – January 29, 2009
- Did you know?

Real Estate Roundup (November 2008)

CBRE (http://www.cbre.com/)
- Building 98 Mare Island, Vallejo – 14,335 SF leased to Jerry Carter
- 531 Getty Court, Benicia – 11,520 SF leased to Instrument & Valve Services Company
- 2148 Beechcraft Road, Vacaville – 5,700 SF leased to Square D
Colliers International (http://www.colliersparrish.com/)
- 3860 Industrial Way, Benicia - ±4,619 s/f lease extension to Integra Services, Inc
Cornish & Carey (http://www.ccarey.com/)
- 475 Industrial Way, Benicia – 8,400 sf lease to Team Industrial
Cushman & Wakefield (http://www.cushmanwakefield.com/)
- 2270 Cordelia Road, Fairfield – 19,232 sf lease to Calbee America
- 2850 Cordelia Road, Fairfield – 1,740 sf lease to Bay Area Intermodal
Premier Commercial (http://www.pcres.net/)
- 4227 Lozano Lane, Fairfield – 5,121 sf plus 4,200 sf yard leased to Consolidated Electrical Distributors
- 4733 Mangles Blvd, Fairfield – 2,200 sf lease to Karen Alvord


Featured Property: 5001 Industrial Way, Benicia +/- 220,000 SF

5001 Industrial Way is a prime location for Office Space or Headquarters

Property Description:
♦ Gross Acreage: ±9.88 gross acres (±430,373 sq. ft.)
♦ Dimensions: ±695’ (width) x ±710’ (deep)
♦ Access: I-680 – Lake Herman Rd –
Industrial Way
♦ Utilities: To Site
♦ Zoning: Light Industrial
♦ APN: 0080-301-160

♦ ±220,000 sq. ft. concrete tilt-up
building (±480’ deep x ±420’ wide)
(± 201,600 sq. ft ground floor)
♦ Office: ±40,000 sq. ft. mezzanine office structure
(2 floors @ ±20,000 sq. ft. per floor)
♦ Column Spacing: ±60’ wide x ±46.66’ deep
♦ Clear Height: ±24’ minimum
♦ 7 1/2” thick walls
♦ Landscaping and irrigation
♦ Loading: Cross Loaded
Grade Level: ±7 (±12’ x ±14’); and
Dock High: ±24 (±9’ x ±10’)
♦ Truck Staging: ±112’ (not inc. parking stall)
♦ Parking: ±227 spaces
♦ 5” concrete slab with #3 rebar 24” OCEW
♦ Fire Sprinklers: .45/3,000 sq. ft
♦ Roofing: 4-ply 20 year specification
♦ 2,000 amp electrical service @ 277/480 volts
♦ Insulation: R-19 Roof & R-11 walls

♦ Excellent freeway access to I-680 with views of Mt. Diablo and the Carquinez Straits. Built in 1996.
♦ Architectural award winning office design/finish.
♦ Lease term through November 30, 2013. Longer term possible

To schedule a tour or obtain
pricing information,please contact:
Brooks Pedder
Phil Garrett
(707) 831-0188


The 26th Solano EDC Annual Meeting

Sign up today to hear Jay Adair, President, Copart at the 26th Annual Meeting of the Solano Economic Development Corporation. Copart has been named to Forbes Top Small Companies for the past nine years in a row. Come learn about the "change-centric" culture that has made this Fairfield Head Quartered company successful.

Thursday, January 29, 2009
11:00 a.m. Registration 11:30 a.m. lunch & program
Hilton Garden Inn, Fairfield
To register call or email Pat at (707) 864-1855


Did you know?

Did you know that "Jingle Bells" was first written for Thanksgiving. It was penned and first played by James Lord Pierpont in 1857 at a church in Savannah, Georgia for Thanksgiving. It was so well liked that he played it again on Christmas day and since then it has become one of the most popular Christmas carols.


The Solano Economic Development Corporation’s mission is to enhance the economic vitality
and quality of life in Solano County communities through the attraction,
growth and retention of business and industry.

Solano EDC Team

Mike Ammann, President (mike@solanoedc.org)
Sandy Person, Vice-President (sandy@solanoedc.org)
Pat Uhrich, Office Manager (pat@solanoedc.org)
Andy Turba, Special Projects (andy@solanoedc.org)

Solano Economic Development Corporation
360 Campus Lane, Suite 102, Fairfield, CA 94534
Phone: (707) 864-1855 Fax: (707) 864-6621
Website: http://www.solanoedc.org/

Emergency communication key focus for million dollar donation

Emergency communication key focus for million dollar donation
By Sarah Rohrs/Times-Herald, Vallejo
Posted: 12/23/2008 01:04:37 AM PST

In an emergency, the last thing you need is the inability of police, fire and other public safety agencies to communicate easily with one another.

That's why county officials are pleased with a $1 million donation which will help complete a state-of-the-art countywide communication system.

The new system will help erase static in the county's effort to ensure police, fire and other agencies can communicate with one another via radio.

County public information officer Steve Pierce said in many cases emergency personnel within the county or a city can communicate over the radio with each other, but not with other agencies.

"Not all of our public safety agencies can talk together, which is the purpose of the project," Pierce said.

A so-called "magical black box" to ease communications should be working in about three months, he added.

The $1 million donation comes from the Valero Refining Company of Benicia, and includes $100,000 to assist with the Benicia Police Department in improving its communication system.

The refinery delivered the first $250,000 Wednesday and will make annual payments through 2011.

County Supervisor John Silva of Benicia, who spear-headed the efforts to secure the funding, said the grant will enable radio frequencies to be set so that all parties can understand what's being said.

With less than two weeks left in office, Silva said securing the enormous grant "feels good as I'm going out the door."

Valero vice president and general manager Doug Comeau said the refinery is pleased to support the work, and added that even in the bad economy, health and safety cannot be ignored.

The county and Solano's seven cities are working together under the umbrella of the Solano Emergency Communications Activity (SECA) to improve the way emergency responders communicate. The effort to improve radio communication began with a 2003 study.

Benicia Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli said the $100,000 Valero grant will help the city comply with new Federal Communications Commission requirements, and remove radio "dead zones" around town.

Funding will also go toward new equipment to take care of compatibility issues between various public safety agencies, Spagnoli said.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Builder moving in

Builder moving in
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | December 21, 2008 22:50

FAIRFIELD - A construction giant is the latest business to announce plans to move to Fairfield.

Nebraska-based Kiewit Corporation will build an office and administrative center on a 3.37-acre parcel of land on Business Center Drive in the Cordelia area.

The company has submitted plans to the city for review and hopes to start construction 'as soon as possible,' said Curt Johnston, assistant director of economic development.

'Fairfield is a good location if you are working in the north bay and Sacramento,' Johnston said.

At about 32,000 square feet, the building will be larger than Kiewit's current regional office in Concord and will have about another 10,000 square feet of expansion potential. The center will emply about 150 people, though most will work in the field, Johnston said.

Kiewit, which in 2008 had revenue of $6.2 billion, is one of the largest construction firms in the world. It provides construction, engineering and mining services to clients nationwide.

The building will be on the 4700 block, on the opposite side of Business Center Drive from Copart.

Wood's staff excited about new addition

Wood's staff excited about new addition
By Ryan Chalk/ RChalk@TheReporter.com
Article Launched: 12/22/2008 01:04:14 AM PST

The new math and science wing at Will C. Wood High School is nearly complete. Work crews will begin moving classrooms over to the new building during the winter break so that they are ready conduct classes there when they return on Jan. 5. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter, Vacaville)

William Christopher Wood would be proud -- the school that bears his name is taking a giant leap toward improving education as a new high-tech wing prepares to open.

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the two-story math and science wing at Will C. Wood High School and now that staff and students are out on winter break, the move-in begins. When students come back on Jan. 5, they will have state-of-the-art classrooms for biology, chemistry, physics, environmental sciences and math -- along with the possibility of having to climb a flight of stairs between classes.

"This is very much like a college-level building. Students are going to get a feel for the college setting here," said Daniel Banowetz, project coordinator for the district.

Will C. Wood High School chemistry instructor Becky Baclig stands in her new classromm in the school's new math and science wing. Work crews will use the winter break to begin moving instructional materials in so that classes can be held in the building when they come back to school on Jan. 5. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter, Vacaville)

The math and science wing is the second part of the school's three phase modernization process. It is part of a $35 million project funded by the Measure V bond initiative passed in 2003.

Highlights of the new building include spacious classrooms with updated technology such as overhead projectors and interactive whiteboards. The bottom floor consists of two chemistry classrooms, four biology classrooms and a physics lab.

Beneficial to everyone is a central prep area. The shared corridor sits between the classrooms on the first floor and allows teachers a safe place to store materials and prepare for experiments. The second floor includes nine classrooms, some of which will be used for math and science.

Banowetz said that technology is a big part of the new building. For example, desks in the upstairs environmental sciences classrooms can be moved toward outlying counterspace where there is not only power outlets, but data ports for Internet connectivity.

"The teachers are so excited. It was hard keeping them out of here while we were building it," added Banowetz.

One of those teachers was Becky Baclig, a chemistry instructor at Wood.

Baclig said she was happy to have more space in the classroom, allowing students to spread out when working on experiments and to accommodate those with disabilities.

Classrooms inside Will C. Wood High School's new math and science wing offer more space and state-of-the-art technology. Work crews will begin moving the teacher's belongings in over the winter break. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter, Vacaville)

The fact that teachers were involved in the design is another thing that impresses the veteran teacher.

"It's neat to see some of the ideas we had actually come through. You fell like you really had some ownership in designing the building," added Baclig.

Principal Chris Strong said that recent improvements to the school and the addition of the new math and science wing are important to not only the school but surrounding community.

"We feel that the school finally matches the level of education we provide here," said Strong. "And we really want to stress how much we appreciate the community for passing the bond to make this possible. You can really see that the money was well spent."


University of California, Davis
December 19, 2008

Six faculty members from University of California, Davis, are among the 486 newly elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This prestigious rank is conferred on AAAS members for their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. The new fellows will be formally honored in a ceremony on Feb. 14, 2009, at the society's annual meeting in Chicago.

Shirley Chiang

A professor of physics, Shirley Chiang served as chair of the department from 2003 through June 2008. The society cited Chiang for "innovative and incisive use of scanning probe techniques for the study of metal surfaces." In recent years her research has focused on the study of nucleation and growth of thin metal films on single crystal metal and semiconductor surfaces, and on observing the chemical reactions of small molecules on metal surfaces. Her pioneering work with the experimental technique known as scanning tunneling microscopy has produced such discoveries as showing that surface alloying of metals such as copper, gold and silver occurs under a surprisingly large variety of conditions. She has also demonstrated that a scanning tunneling microscope can be used to distinguish between isomers of various molecules on the basis of their shapes. Chiang's work has important implications for a variety of applications, including the development of new materials and the fabrication of electronic devices.

Paul Luciw

Paul Luciw is a professor and molecular virologist at the Center for Comparative Medicine and the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The primary focus of his research is on viruses that establish persistent infection, including retroviruses that cause immunodeficiency and herpesviruses associated with cancer. He also is working to develop new methods for analyzing blood serum samples to diagnose infectious diseases of mice and nonhuman primates, and is studying cell-signaling pathways in cell-culture models for cancer.
Luciw applies these techniques to develop better methods for detecting immune responses to other infectious agents, including the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. He was chosen as a fellow in the AAAS because of his distinguished contributions to the understanding of the molecular origin and development of AIDS and to the study of potential vaccines for AIDS and the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV.

George Roussas

A distinguished professor in the Department of Statistics, George Roussas studies probability models, which attempt to describe what is happening in the world around us. These models and the statistical inference associated with them help scientists make sense of various phenomena and extract information from massive sets of data in a multitude of fields including astronomy, physics, social sciences, medicine and ecology.

In electing him a fellow, the society cited Roussas' fundamental contributions to the field of statistical inference in stochastic processes and also his significant contributions to his university and profession. During the 14 years from 1985 to 1999 that Roussas served as associate dean of statistics and chair of the Graduate Group in Statistics, curriculum and faculty in the department increased dramatically, and the university's standing in statistics soared to 11th place among academic and research institutions worldwide.

David Glenn Smith

Anthropology professor David Glenn Smith was elected for distinguished contributions to primate population genetics, and for the use of mitochondrial DNA to understand the peopling of the Americas. Smith's interests and research include the biogeography of the macaque monkey genus, genetic evidence related to the peopling of the New World, and the use of both modern and ancient DNA to assess ancestor-descendant relationships. Smith is principal investigator of the Molecular Anthropology Laboratory at UC Davis, which explores Native American biological origins and population history through the study of ancient and modern DNA. The lab also conducts population genetics research in captive primate populations.

Judith Stern

Judith Stern, professor of nutrition and internal medicine and a member of the Institute of Medicine, is one of the nation's foremost experts on weight management. She has published extensively on nutrition, obesity and the effect of exercise on appetite and metabolism. Her efforts to move research findings beyond the laboratory have led to new health policy, particularly in the area of obesity and public awareness of nutrition's importance. She was elected as a fellow of the AAAS in recognition of her distinguished contributions to the field of nutrition, research on obesity and diabetes, and efforts to communicate and interpret science to the public. The election also honors her work in co-founding the American Obesity Association and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (now the Obesity Society).

Venkatesan Sundaresan

Plant biologist Venkatesan Sundaresan is a professor in the colleges of Biological Sciences and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The society recognized him for his distinguished contributions to the field of plant genomics and plant developmental biology, particularly for his work in floral development and reproduction. Using a technique of inserting short gene sequences called transposons into the DNA of rice and Arabidopsis plants, Sundaresan and his lab explore the function and expression of genes in plant genomes, and have developed a strategy that is advancing large-scale analysis of gene function in cereal crops. This research was used by his lab to identify critical genes that control flowering and egg cell formation in plants, knowledge that will be helpful in controlling plant reproduction in agricultural applications.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science -- and advanced degrees from five professional schools: Education, Law, Management, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine. The UC Davis School of Medicine and UC Davis Medical Center are located on the Sacramento campus near downtown.

Media contact(s):
* Liese Greensfelder, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-6101, lgreensfelder@ucdavis.edu

Thursday, December 18, 2008

California Department of Techology to move from Sacramento to Vacaville

California Department of Techology to move from Sacramento to Vacaville
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

The state Department of Technology Services is planning to leave its Cannery Campus data center in east Sacramento and move its equipment to leased space in Vacaville by 2011.

The department outlined its relocation plans in a recent presentation to the state Technology Services Board, saying it will sign the lease in January. Officials will start moving equipment by May and relocate staff now to other offices by 2010, relocation project manager Steve Rushing told the board.

The state had been considering building a new data center facility in Fresno at a cost of between $100 million and $130 million. But Rushing said the Fresno plan was dropped because of the budget deficit, saying the leased Vacaville space is less expensive.

Rushing said the 3-year-old technology services department must move because its facilities and infrastructure are obsolete. He said the three buildings that make up the Cannery complex are for sale and department leases are set to expire.

– Andrew McIntosh

UC Davis team refines cancer treatments to reduce potential nerve damage

UC Davis team refines cancer treatments to reduce potential nerve damage
Karen Finney
University of California - Davis - Health System

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — While radiation treatments deliver precise doses of high-energy X-rays to stop cancer cells from spreading or to shrink tumors, oncologists have become increasingly concerned about inadvertent exposures during head and neck cancer treatments to nerves responsible for upper body mobility. To reduce the possibility of permanent nerve damage, UC Davis Cancer Center researchers have taken the lead in establishing new treatment guidelines for physicians nationwide.

The team, led by Allen Chen, assistant professor of radiation oncology, noticed a trend following treatment for cancers of the tonsil, tongue, throat, and other head and neck organs: A number of patients reported ongoing weakness and sensation problems in their necks, shoulders and upper arms. Chen recognized that these symptoms could be attributed to injury of the brachial plexus nerves, which begin at the back of the neck and extend behind the clavicle and down to the hand. Specific standards for delivering radiation treatments and avoiding this critical body structure, however, did not exist.

"Radiation is an essential treatment for most head and neck cancers, and current technologies make it possible for us to successfully target those tumors," said Chen. "Exposure to other tissues is unavoidable and typically not considered serious or long-term. But brachial plexus damage can be permanent and debilitating, so we decided to develop treatment guidelines to reduce radiation exposure to these nerves."

As a result, Chen and his colleagues established step-by-step techniques for identifying the brachial plexus complex using common anatomical "bench posts" that are easily visible with computed tomography scans commonly used for treatment planning. He then designed delivery contours for intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatments to avoid those areas, and tested the guidelines on 10 patients with a variety of head and neck cancers.

Outcomes of the study show that the guidelines, which are published in the December 2008 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physiology, can be used to evaluate the exact radiation doses delivered to the brachial plexus as well as potentially reduce exposures to levels that meet current medical standards. Patients in the study will continue to be monitored for upper body mobility symptoms and to determine if their radiation treatments were as effective as those delivered prior to the new guidelines.

Chen will next refine the guidelines for patients whose anatomies are distinct due to medical treatments or who may have alternate brachial plexus pathways. For some people, for instance, these nerves begin at a slightly lower or higher point in the neck.

"Not all patients have the same body structures, and we will be adding to the recommendations to account for those differences," Chen said. "Our goals are to lessen the impact of cancer treatments as much as possible, and we are committed to taking a leadership role in making sure that radiation treatments for cancer are as safe, effective and comfortable as possible."


Other investigators on the study were William Hall, Michael Guiou, Samir Narayan, Arthur Dublin, Srinivisan Vijayakumar and James Purdy of UC Davis; and Nancy Lee of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The UC Davis Department of Radiation Oncology, located in the National Cancer Institute-designated UC Davis Cancer Center, is dedicated to providing high-quality and comprehensive patient care utilizing the most current treatment technologies. The faculty and staff also conduct extensive basic and clinical research and provide community education programs on cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention. For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/radonc.

UC Davis studying jatropha as potential Southern California oil crop

UC Davis studying jatropha as potential Southern California oil crop
Dec 15, 2008, By Cary Blake
Farm Press Editorial Staff

EXAMINING A JATROPHA test plot at the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville, Calif., from left: Charlie Tijerine, Desert Center Cactus, Desert Center, Calif.; William Castellanos, William’s Fish Farms, also in Desert Center; and Ronald Hill, Royal Medjool Date Gardens, Bard, Calif. Tijerine and Castellanos are currently test growing jatropha.

The University of California, Davis is conducting research on the oil plant jatropha to determine if the plant can be grown successfully and profitably in Southern California to produce biodiesel.

Jatropha seeds from India grown in a UC Davis greenhouse were transplanted this spring into an acre parcel at the University of California Desert Research and Extension Center (DREC) in Holtville, Calif. The trial is funded by Chevron.

Jatropha is a tropical, drought tolerant, perennial plant grown as a tree or shrub up to 13 feet in height. The fruit has three kidney-bean sized seeds which contain about 50 percent oil.

“I think jatropha would be ideal for this area,” said Sham Goyal, UC Davis agronomist, and a member of the university’s jatropha research team. “A realistic estimate is an acre of jatropha could produce from 500 to 600 gallons of biodiesel per acre per year. If you’re paying $5 per gallon for diesel, that’s about $2,500 per acre of gross return.”

Jatropha produces fruit-seeds for about 30 years and grows best in well-drained soils with good aeration. The plant is well adapted for marginal soils with low nutrition. Plantings at DREC are sub-surface irrigated. Goyal says annual water requirements are about 2 acre feet.

The jatropha plant-to-biodiesel process includes cultivating the jatropha plantation, harvesting the nuts which contain oil and protein, mechanically grinding the oil seeds, pressing out the plant oil, and filtering the plant oil.

Goyal says labor issues would necessitate mechanization at harvest.

“If we cannot harvest the crop mechanically, then jatropha has no future,” Goyal said. “Seed harvest by hand would be too expensive.” Mechanical harvesters are in development in other countries.

Another concern is fully mature and immature fruits exist on the same branch at the same time which would make mechanical harvesting more difficult. Genetic plant developments are needed to create uniform maturity, Goyal says.

Goyal shared his jatropha knowledge with growers, pest control advisors, and industry representatives during the 19th annual Fall Desert Crops Workshop in November in Holtville.

The event was organized by Eric Natwick, director, University of California Cooperative Extension, Imperial County. Western Farm Press sponsored the workshop.

The recommended jatropha planting rate is about 1,000 plants per acre, Goyal says. The plants in the DREC plot are planted 6 feet apart with 15 feet between the rows.

Jatropha tolerates drought, but irrigation and rainfall increases productivity. The plant flowers between September and November and grows fruit from October to December. The best average temperatures for production are the mid-70 degree range.

In addition to Goyal, UC Davis jatropha researchers include plant scientist Anna Davidson, ag engineers Uriel Rosa and Shrini Upadhyaya, and plant geneticist Dan Parfitt.

Goyal was born and raised in India earning his bachelor and master’s degrees there. His doctorate in plant physiology is from UC Davis. The university’s first effort to find a sponsor for a jatropha project fell short. Chevron came on board last year. Goyal then traveled to India to collect seeds and germplasm.

Goyal is unaware of potential pest or disease issues with jatropha.

Historically jatropha is grown as a live fence around fields in some areas of the world to keep cattle away from crops. Animals don’t eat it. Some people say jatropha is poisonous. The subsequent discovery of high oil content has elevated the plant as a new oil source for biodiesel.

The plant may have originated in Nicaragua. Most jatropha growing areas in the world are based around the equator. Jatropha, from the family Euphorbiaceae, is commonly known as Barbados nut and White Physic nut.

Goyal referred to a global jatropha market study which pegs production in the Americas at more than 64,000 acres this year. Production could total four million acres by 2015. Asia is expected to grow 2.3 million acres this year and surpass 22 million acres by 2015.

Several Indian companies have jatropha lines capable of producing 60 percent oil, Goyal says. This goal would require superior plant genetics, advanced pruning techniques, improved soil moisture and nutrient levels, foliar fertilizer 30 days prior to harvest, and high-end processing equipment.

Processing typically should be completed within 24 hours of harvest, Goyal says.

Byproducts can create paper, soap, cosmetics, toothpaste, rich organic fertilizer seed cake, biomass to power electricity power plants, plus medicinal uses.

William Castellanos and Charlie Tijerine are conducting on-farm jatropha test trials in Desert Center, Calif., (Riverside County). Both attended the workshop to hear Goyal’s presentation.

Castellanos of William’s Fish Farms, planted jatropha seeds in 1-gallon pots in his greenhouse last July and then transferred the plants to 5-gallon pots. He’ll transplant the 500, 24 to 30-inch plants into a one-half acre parcel in February.

“Jatropha used for pasture field dividers grow like weeds in El Salvador,” said Castellanos, an El Salvador native.

“I expect to have the plants in the ground for one year before harvesting seeds.” He noted that jackrabbits like to eat his plants. “I don’t want to work for the jackrabbits.”

Neighbor Charlie Tijerine, Desert Center Cactus, and a former cotton grower in Buckeye, Ariz., planted and lost about 500 plants this year; likely due to planting too early. He also believes the seed he purchased from India was old seed. He may purchase seed from Australia next time.

“My plan is to establish a 40-acre nursery,” Tijerine said. “I think there will be a big demand for jatropha.”

Tijerine plans to tap into his cotton roots. “I think jatropha can be planted similar to cotton,” he said. “When the heat builds up, they’ll germinate if it’s good quality seed. Good seed combined with deep tillage and a good irrigation system should allow it to grow.” Tijerine will grow strawberries or tomatoes between the jatropha rows.

Tijerine said a processing facility able to handle jatropha is located in Los Angeles and a plant may be built near Vicksburg, Ariz., (La Paz County).

“I think getting a cash flow from 18 months to three years would be a good guess because it’s an exotic plant. If you can get cash flow within two years, it would be pretty good,” Tijerine said.

email: cblake@farmpress.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


University of California, Davis
December 17, 2008

Thanks to a three-year $6.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, UC Davis researchers are working on a groundbreaking plant genome project that could speed up the development of wheat varieties with improved grain quality and nutrition, higher yield, resistance to pests and diseases, and tolerance of adverse climate conditions.

Led by geneticist Jan Dvorak from the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, the project received the largest award from the NSF Plant Genome Program this year. It seeks to construct a physical map of one of the three genomes making up the chromosome complement of wheat -- a task far tougher than mapping the human genome.

"Unlike the mammalian genomes, genomes in higher plants differ enormously in size," Dvorak said. "Each of the three wheat genomes, for example, is an order of magnitude larger than the genome of rice.
We have never had the technology to physically map and sequence huge genomes such as those of wheat."

A physical map is a representation of the order of genes and other landmarks along a chromosome. To construct a physical map, genomic DNA is fragmented, and fragments are cloned and "fingerprinted."
Overlaps between fingerprints are used to identify neighboring DNA fragments, arranging them into a contiguous sequence corresponding to the DNA sequence in the chromosome. Scientists can then determine the location of genes and other markers in these fragments and sequence them.

"Instead of producing a physical map of wheat chromosomes directly, the chromosomes of Aegilops tauschii, one of the three ancestors of wheat and the source of its D genome, will be mapped first," Dvorak said. "These maps will then be used as templates in physical mapping of individual chromosomes of the wheat D genome, which is one of the specific objectives of this project."

While it will take years and further studies before the full wheat genomic sequence will be available to the research community, NSF funders say this project is a vital first step. The project will include sponsoring student internships and workshops for other scientists in fingerprinting and physical mapping as well as creating a public repository of all the data and its analysis.

"The knowledge from this project will be helpful in all aspects of wheat breeding and biotechnology because it will accelerate the discovery and isolation of economically important genes," Dvorak said. "The project will also advance understanding of the evolution and the global organization of large plant genomes."

The project includes UC Davis investigators Ming-Cheng Luo and Patrick McGuire, and Olin Anderson from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/ARS in Albany, Calif., who also holds an adjunct appointment at UC Davis. It also involves Bikram Gill from Kansas State University, Doreen Ware from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and Jaroslav Dolezel from the Institute of Experimental Botany in the Czech Republic.

The NSF began in 1998 making annual grant awards through its Plant Genome Research Program, dedicated to advancing understanding of the structure, organization and function of plant genomes that are important to agriculture, the environment, energy and health.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science -- and advanced degrees from five professional schools: Education, Law, Management, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine. The UC Davis School of Medicine and UC Davis Medical Center are located on the Sacramento campus near downtown.

Media contact(s):
* Jan Dvorak, Plant Sciences, (530) 752-6549, jdvorak@ucdavis.edu (He will be away from campus until Jan. 5 but can be reached during that time by e-mail.)
* Diane Nelson, Plant Sciences, (530) 752-1969, denelson@ucdavis.edu
* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, pjbailey@ucdavis.edu

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cloning expert inspires SCC biotech students

Cloning expert inspires SCC biotech students
By Jonathan Edwards | Daily Republic | December 11, 2008

World renowned embryologist Sir Ian Wilmut talks with students at Solano Community College's Fairfield campus after a lecture on Thursday. Wilmut, is best known for leadeing the team that first cloned a mammal, a lamb named Dolly, was at the school speaking to Biotech students. Photo by Chris Jordan

FAIRFIELD - The British scientist best known for leading the team that cloned the sheep 'Dolly' in 1996 offered Solano Community College biotechnology students a peek at the frontier of stem-cell research on Thursday.

Twelve years after first cloning a mammal, Sir Ian Wilmut now works at the University of Edinburgh as the director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, researching stem cells and how they can be used to treat a host of diseases, including diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

'It's that power and that potential that has attracted researchers,' Wilmut said.

Martina Newell-McGloughlin, the director of the University of California biotechnology research, has known Wilmut for years and helped bring him to SCC. She said his visit is a testament to the caliber of both Wilmut and the college's biotech program.

'Ian is someone who can inspire students at the community college-level about science and what biotechnology can do for society,' Newell-McGloughlin said. 'He can relate to the humanity of what's going on. He's not stuck in the test tube.'

'It was great for our students to see science of this caliber,' echoed Jim DeKloe, the director of SCC's biotechnology program. DeKloe said Wilmut's talk has been anticipated on campus for months and speaks to the quality of SCC's biotechnology program.

'This is the way education is supposed to work,' he said. 'We have a close relationship with biotechnology companies in our county and across the country. They advise us on what knowledge and skills our students should have and then we put that into the curriculum. That way, these companies get a workforce that's trained in the right way.'

Matt Ribeiro is already part of that workforce. He lives in Suisun City and has been taking biotech classes at SCC since fall 2004. He parlayed that experience into an internship at ALZA Corp. in Vacaville, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that specializes in drug-delivery technologies.

Ribeiro was 'blown away' with the quality equipment he was able to use at SCC, he said, adding it helped prepare him for the job market.

The practical, hands-on training that SCC offers students such as Ribeiro fills a crucial role in the biotech industry, Wilmut said.

'You need to be able to group cells in the laboratory, you need to be able to do molecular biology,' Wilmut said. 'You need all of these different skills at a company or in academic research -- people who can do the technical things routinely and accurately.'

Reach Jonathan Edwards at 427-6934, or jedwards@dailyrepublic.net.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Silva says so long to Solano's supes

Silva says so long to Solano's supes
By Danny Bernardini/DBernardini@TheReporter.com
Posted: 12/09/2008 01:01:17 AM PST

After 12 years of serving as county supervisor, today will be John Silva's last meeting.

Silva, 73, will chair his final meeting with the Solano County Board of Supervisors which will include a reception and the presentation of a plaque.

Silva was unseated by Linda Seifert earlier this year in the race for District 2 and will turn over his position next month. His last day is officially Jan. 5, but don't ask Silva what he has planned beyond spending some time at his vacation home in Gray Eagle.

"Only 28 days left," he said. "I'm just anxious to get on with my life and to do something different. But I don't know what the heck that is."

Since taking over in 1997, Silva has seen the county go from a small staff with little money to spare, to a thriving government in a building that makes others jealous.

"People said we shouldn't, we wouldn't and we couldn't do it. Then we came in under budget," he said. "I had a broom closet over there (in the previous building). We had a little table with a computer and two chairs. That's it. When you bring people here from out of town, they're impressed."

Both Supervisors Barbara Kondylis and John Vasquez touted Silva's efforts to get health insurance for every child in the county. What started as a proposal, now has become county policy.

"The main contribution John made was talking to the powers that be to fully support the child insurance policy," Kondylis said. "He was the spearhead behind it. He took up the cause."

Silva, too, is proud of the work he did with insuring children.

"What was interesting is we had to identify the kids and get into the schools," Silva said. "It just built, it was a great program. It's got momentum and will carry on."

Kondylis said she and Silva often fought for the southern portions of the county to get a fair shake. She also thanked him for that and his participation with the domestic violence task force.

Silva acknowledged the tendency to focus on aspects in upper county, but said he always fought for Benicia and Vallejo.

"I've kidded around about it, things should flow downhill, but they don't in this county. I think we've begun to get our fair share," he said.

For Vasquez, it's Silva's experience and advice he will miss the most. Since Vasquez was an aide to former supervisor Bill Carroll, he said Silva has treated him well and helped him.

"When I got elected, it was a seat right next to John. Bill told me 'I want you sit next to him and listen to what he has to say. You will learn a lot.' That's some of the best advice I've ever gotten," Vasquez said. "There is a lot of wisdom left there. He's going to be missed."

The Solano County Board of Supervisors meets today at 9 a.m. in the Supervisors Chamber in Fairfield.

Sparkling SF Salvation Army center impresses

Sparkling SF Salvation Army center impresses
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 10, 2008

Students from the nearby De Marillac Academy have P.E. class in the basketball gym of the Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in San Francisco Photo by Brad Zweerink

SAN FRANCISCO - From the street, the Salvation Army's Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center on Turk Street doesn't stand out from the rest of San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin district.

Only after you get inside next to the security center where members are checked in, do you hear the squeak of kids' sneakers on a indoor basketball court and see seniors having lunch in a clean, well-kept dining room.

The Tenderloin, while a rough part of town, has the city's largest concentration of children, and is a natural place for the Salvation Army, said Major George Rocheleau, who runs the center.

This is the community center a Suisun City Council subcommittee toured two months ago when they were deciding what the Salvation Army had to offer Suisun City.

The Suisun City Council picked the Salvation Army to reopen and run the now-vacant former YMCA facility on Wigeon Way.

Both sides are now in talks over the financial aspects of the deal and the Salvation Army is assessing how much it would cost to renovate and modify the facility.

The San Francisco center, which opened in August, is much more extensive than what Capt. Fred Rasmussen, the Salvation Army's North Bay counties coordinator, envisions for the Suisun City facility.

'We are the minor leagues,' Rasmussen said comparing the two centers. 'But the standard here is what we aspire to. The principals that are established here are good for Suisun City.'

That standard is a clean, well-run, safe facility that meets the needs of the area around it, Rasmussen said during a tour of the San Francisco Salvation Army community center.

That standard starts at the Kroc Center's front door with security that ensures that everyone who enters is supposed to be there, according to Rocheleau.

Background checks are done on members, checking them against databases such as those for registered sex offenders.

'We have to rise to the sensitivity of the times,' Rocheleau said of a public's rising concern for safety.

Down the hallway is a gym with a hard-foam court, a rotating rock wall and six basketball hoops which were being used by a class from a nearby school.

'They rent the place from us,' Rocheleau said. 'Before this, they were playing in a parking lot.'

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

School solar array spells big savings

School solar array spells big savings
By Ryan Chalk/ RChalk@TheReporter.com
Posted: 12/11/2008 01:01:17 AM PST

After the fog had burned away, Dixon school officials celebrated a bright spot on the new Dixon High School campus this week -- the completion of a massive solar tracking array.

Community members, school officials and trustees celebrated briefly in the school's theater before ceremoniously "flipping the switch" on the project and extol its merit Tuesday. Representatives from SPG Solar and energy services provider Honeywell were on hand as well to talk about the project and tour the 4-acre solar farm.

"We are unique. This has been a part of the vision for a long time," said Dixon Unified School Board President Shana Levine.

Levine explained that Dixon Unified becomes one of just a handful of district's across the state to embrace solar energy. Dixon High School's solar project is expected to produce 80 percent of the school's energy needs and save the district $1 million in energy costs over the next 20 years.

Bay Area-based SPG Solar constructed the 700-kilowatt solar array which consists of 93 large panels ground-mounted on two separate tracks which tilt as the angle of the sun changes throughout the day. Honeywell, which developed the project, will operate and maintain the panels.

The entire project came at no cost to the district, and under a power purchase agreement with Honeywell, the district will lock in fixed rates for the next 20 years at a lower cost than what the district is paying now.

In addition to the cost savings to the district, the solar farm will also serve as a learning tool for its students.

Dixon Unified School District Superintendent Roger Halberg explained that a kiosk will be built in the school's library where students can monitor the energy usage and what the system is producing. Beyond that, there are plans to create a Web site for the solar project from which instructors can guide.

Visits to the solar farm by the district's students will also be an important part of the project.

"This will be a place for our students to take field trips and a place to teach the kids the importance of energy conservation," said Levine.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Suisun City celebrates success of Christmas festival

Suisun City celebrates success of Christmas festival
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | December 08, 2008

SUISUN CITY - The Christmas tree auction will return next year after organizers of the Christmas at the Waterfront celebrations this past weekend said the fundraising event was a success.

Also returning will be a larger version of the polymer ice rink, which drew skaters of all ages and abilities.

The auction of trees decorated by community groups raised $2,470, slightly less than what organizers had hoped, but Linda Feins is not complaining.

'All of them sold and I was pretty pleased,' said Feins, who helped organize the event.

With the auction being a new event, Feins and other organizers were satisfied with the money raised and expect to make more next year.

Nineteen community groups spent Saturday morning decorating the trees, and then the bidding began in a silent auction. All the proceeds went directly to the groups.

'It created a great holiday feeling with everyone giving their time,' Athenian Grill owner Shelly Kontogiannis said of the event.

Some people in the sizable crowd that viewed the trees decided just to donate money out of their pockets to the groups.

The Wednesday Club of Suisun's creation, decorated with red poinsettias and cardinals, was honored as the best tree. Second place went to the Relay for Life's tree, and the Fairfield Civic Theater's entry was third.

'Next year, we hope to get more trees, get more organizations involved and get a bigger tent (in which the trees were displayed),' Feins said.

Another big festival hit was the 30-foot by 30-foot ice rink, which was open from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

'It went over extremely well,' organizer Anita Skinner said. 'We had more than 600 skaters during the three days and most of them were youngsters.'

Skinner plans to have a larger rink next year. The city is looking at whether it can afford to keep the rink open for a longer period of time by finding more local businesses or groups to be sponsors.

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




Fairfield, Calif., December 9, 2008 - Fairfield, California's commercial leasing activity remains steady with the recent announcements from several businesses that they are locating in the city because of its strategic location between San Francisco and Sacramento.

Skye Technical Services, Inc. is leasing 1,500 square feet of office space at 5030 Business Center Drive in the Green Valley Executive Center. The company, a disabled veterans business enterprise, employs six people and provides engineering professional services for a variety of industries including those in the manufacturing, commercial and life sciences sectors.

The company's founder and president, Joe DePaul, a Fairfield resident, says, "I chose to locate in the city not only because I live here, but also because Fairfield is located close to every major industry in this region of Northern California."

BCI Communications Inc., a builder and installer for the telecom industry, is leasing 5,200-square feet at 4885 Fulton Drive. Ryan D'Agostino with BCI says Fairfield was chosen because "we are expanding in Northern California and Fairfield's central location makes it possible to serve our customers needs in both Sacramento and Bay Area markets."

Munters Corporation, an international company that provides energy efficient air treatment solutions and restoration services, is leasing 13, 500 square feet at 505 Lopes Road.

Pacific Wine Distributors, headquartered in Southern California, is leasing 25,000 square feet at 1891 Woolner Avenue. The company provides full-service delivery and storage solutions to wine and spirits producers and sellers, as well as private collectors and fine wine dealers in California. It joins a list of more than half a dozen wine-related businesses in Fairfield including ACI Cork, Macro Plastics Inc., Owens-Illinois and Saint-Gobain Containers.

About Fairfield

Fairfield (pop. 106,000) is a growing community with a multitude of commercial and residential development opportunities. Located mid-way between San Francisco and Sacramento, Fairfield is the seat of Solano County, Ca. The city is just 20 miles north of Concord, 38 miles northeast of Oakland, 14 miles southeast of the Napa Valley, 45 miles southwest of Sacramento and 42 miles northeast of San Francisco.

Fairfield Offers Important Business Benefits
Fairfield continues to appeal to retail and commercial entities seeking to grow their businesses for many reasons: an accessible Bay Area location, proximity to Travis Air Force Base, abundant space, value-priced real estate, a diverse workforce, and a unique set of regional amenities. For additional information on the city of Fairfield, visit http://www.Fairfield4Business.com

Prison facility proposal raises queries

Prison facility proposal raises queries
By Kimberly K. Fu/ KFu@TheReporter.com
Posted: 12/09/2008 01:01:33 AM PST

Public safety, accessibility and sewage were among myriad issues raised Monday night at a community meeting regarding the proposed construction of an inmate medical and mental health facility in Vacaville.

The gathering, which drew a mix of residents, leaders and project officials, combined a prepared presentation and informational brochures with professionals able to field questions.

"Obviously there are some concerns that we have as a city and public, so now is the time to air our concerns," encouraged Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine.

Up for discussion was a 1,400-bed unit slated for construction near the hills behind California State Prison, Solano and the California Medical Facility, as proposed by J. Clark Kelso, the federal receiver appointed to oversee California's prison health care system. The build is one of seven proposed throughout the state slated to ease the medical and mental health care needs of inmates. Construction funding has not yet been finalized and more details are expected to be released by the courts early next year.

Also being planned is a 64-bed mental health inpatient facility mandated by the settlement of an inmate lawsuit. It reportedly will be built with or without the 1,400-bed facility.

On Monday, officials asked for help in designing an environmental impact report (EIR) to address any concerns that would have to be mitigated. A draft EIR, followed by a public hearing, is set for April.

Dawn Wright, secretary for the Board of Directors for the SPCA and Humane Animal Services, worried that the proposed facility would spell the end of the SPCA at its current site next to CSP, Solano. The animal shelter operates on state land, she said, and its location could serve as an access point to the new facility.

"My concern is we just did a revamp of our facility and we don't want to have to leave," Wright said. "People's jobs are there and the animals will be affected."

Sewage, she added, is also a top issue because the SPCA shares a sewage line with the prisons.

City leaders are similarly concerned.

The prisons were fined in the past for exceeding sewage capacity. The fine has since been paid and the facilities are now operating at capacity, the mayor said, but whether the new build would tax that capability is not known.

Parking also poses a problem, Augustine said, as does the need for medical response to the prisons. When incidences such as lockdowns are in effect, paramedics have a hard time getting in to the injured person, he explained, adding that a location should be designated "where these people can be served" or a procedure put in place to address the need.

"What I really want is for them to correct existing problems," Augustine said.

Financing, he added, is also a concern.

"Quite frankly, the Department of Corrections is not known for paying their bills on time or at all," the mayor said.

Still, Augustine said that the construction would provide an estimated 1,500 jobs -- a boon in a bad economy -- and possibly draw more doctors, nurses and correctional officers to move to Vacaville. Having more "uniformed" residents, he said, can only make the community an even safer place to live.

As for employment, he said he hoped the construction workers and suppliers involved in the project would be from Vacaville, or at least within Solano.

"Local workers and local suppliers," Augustine emphasized.


University of California, Davis
December 8, 2008

Editor's note: A fact sheet on the Honey Bee Haven garden project is available online at http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/dept/beebio.cfm.

Honey bees will soon find a pollinator paradise at the University of California, Davis, thanks to Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream.

Haagen-Dazs has announced that it is making a $125,000 donation to the UC Davis Department of Entomology to launch a nationwide design competition to create a one-half acre Honey Bee Haven garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.

>From that gift, $65,000 will be used to establish the garden.
Haagen-Dazs and UC Davis will determine how the balance of the gift can best be used to benefit the health of honey bee populations.

"The Honey Bee Haven will be a pollinator paradise," said Lynn Kimsey, chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. "It will provide a much needed, year-round food source for our bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. We anticipate it also will be a gathering place to inform and educate the public about bees. We are grateful to Haagen-Dazs for its continued efforts to ensure bee health."

The garden will include a seasonal variety of blooming plants that will provide a year-round food source for honey bees. It is intended to be a living laboratory supporting research into the nutritional needs and natural feeding behaviors of honey bees and other insect pollinators.

Visitors to the garden will be able to glean ideas on how to establish their own bee-friendly gardens and help to improve the nutrition of bees in their own backyards. The bee haven is expected to be the first in a series of pollinator gardens at UC Davis.

"The garden will be extremely helpful in demonstrating that bees are not a nuisance in the backyard, but instead are obtaining food and water essential for their survival," said Eric Mussen, a Cooperative Extension.

"Campus visitors will be able to see which flowers are most attractive to foraging honey bees and how to space the flowers in order to have bees flying in the most convenient areas of their gardens," he added.

Garden design competition

The garden design competition funded by the Haagen-Dazs brand is being coordinated by the California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis. It is open to anyone who can create a proposal by using basic landscape design principles.

"This is an excellent opportunity to raise public awareness of the current plight of honey bees and to educate the public on how they can help," said Dave Fujino, director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture. "Planting a garden with honey bee friendly plants provides nutrition for the bees and has the potential to create valuable habitat corridors between agricultural sites."

Design submissions for the competition should describe a one-half-acre garden that can be installed for $65,000 or less.
Submissions must include a site plan, planting plan, maintenance program and construction cost estimate.

The plans should include plant species that provide forage for honey bees, a bee-accessible water source, and environmentally friendly paths for visitors. More design specifications and lists of bee-appropriate plants can be found at the UC Davis Department of Entomology Web site at http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/dept/beebio.cfm.

Design plans for the Honey Bee Haven garden must be received at UC Davis by Jan. 30, 2009. Plans should be mailed to the California Center for Urban Horticulture, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean's Office, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616-8571.

The winning design, to be announced in February 2009, will be implemented, and the winning team will receive on-site recognition on the Haagen-Dazs commemorative plaque located within the garden. In addition, the winner will receive a free year's supply of Haagen-Dazs ice cream and will be included in a 2009 press announcement.

More information on the design competition can be obtained from Melissa Borel, program manager at UC Davis' California Center for Urban Horticulture, at (530) 752-6642 or mjborel@ucdavis.edu.

Honey bee disappearance

Honey bees, which pollinate more than 100 different U.S. agricultural crops, valued at $15 billion, are dying from an unexplained phenomenon known as "colony collapse disorder." First identified three years ago, the disorder is characterized by hive abandonment.

The bees disappear, often leaving behind the honey and the immature bees, which die if not fed by the worker bees. In recent years, the nation's beekeepers have reported losing from one-third to all of their bees.

Bee experts suspect that a multitude of causes, including pesticides, diseases, parasites, stress, climate change and malnutrition, are contributing to the dramatic decline in honey bee populations.

Seasonal food shortages lead to malnutrition in the bees, making them more susceptible to diseases.

The Haagen-Dazs brand in February of this year launched the "Haagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees" campaign. The company committed a combined $250,000 donation for bee research to UC Davis and Pennsylvania State University. It also formed a seven-member scientific advisory board, created an educational Web site at http://www.helpthehoneybees.com and introduced the new Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream flavor.

During the last several months, the public has generously responded to the Haagen-Dazs brand's call to action by donating more than $30,000 to support honey bee research at UC Davis. In addition, numerous companies have launched programs that are donating a percentage of their sales to support UC Davis honey bee research. For example, Whole Foods Markets generated more than $10,600 in direct and matching gifts through its in-store promotions.

Anyone interested in donating to UC Davis honey bee research may obtain information at https://awc.ucdavis.edu/makeagift.aspx?alloccat=2000.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges -- Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science -- and advanced degrees from five professional schools: Education, Law, Management, Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine. The UC Davis School of Medicine and UC Davis Medical Center are located on the Sacramento campus near downtown.

Media contact(s):
* Lynn Kimsey, Entomology, (530) 752-5373, lskimsey@ucdavis.edu
* Eric Mussen, Entomology, (530) 752-0472, ecmussen@ucdavis.edu
* Dave Fujino, California Center for Urban Horticulture, (530) 754-7739, dwfujino@ucdavis.edu
* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843, pjbailey@ucdavis.edu

Monday, December 8, 2008

Packing sun power

Packing sun power
By Richard Bammer/ RBammer@TheReporter.com
Posted: 12/07/2008

Mariani Packing Co. has joined the ranks of heroes in the fight against global warming.

The Vacaville-based business, one of the nation's largest dried fruit manufacturers, earlier this week activated its new 1.1-megawatt solar power system and immediately reduced its corporate carbon footprint.

At a press conference in the company parking lot at 500 Crocker Drive, just a stone's throw from the five-football-fields-sized array of photovoltaic solar panels, CEO Mark Mariani flipped a symbolic oversized electric switch and his company became the third major business in the city to generate some of its electrical needs from the sun.

Mariani, whose grandfather started the company more than a century ago and used the sun to dry fruit, said the panels' electricity-generating capacity was the equivalent of taking 3,000 cars off the road for an entire year and enough energy to power 3,000 home for a year. That is roughly one-fourth of the power Pacific Gas & Electric currently supplies the company to dry more than 100 million pounds of fruit, from plums and apricots to cherries and cranberries, each year.

Speaking to a small gathering of print, TV journalists and city officials, Mariani said the project -- 5,800 sun-tracking panels financed at no-cost by SunEdison, a Maryland solar energy company, and installed in 90 days by groSolar, a Vermont concern -- was "a natural decision." He added that the notion of being a "steward of the land" includes caring for its water and air "and what we breath here."

The new system will lead to a better quality of life in Vacaville, said Mariani, adding, "We plan to grow with the city of Vacaville."

In brief remarks, Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said the Mariani solar installation symbolized the 102-year-old company's "progressive" thinking about the future. The mayor's comments were, in part, an allusion to Mariani's father, Paul. Nearly 50 years ago, when irrigation boomed in the Central Valley and California was becoming the major food supplier to America, Paul Mariani installed the first micro-irrigation system in the state. It cut the company's water use by 70 percent at its Santa Clara Valley orchards.

"Mark thinks to the future," Augustine said, adding that Vacaville was something of a hub in California fast-growing solar energy market, exceeded only by Oakland and San Francisco.

Others who have gone "green" in recent months include ALZA Corp., the drug and medical delivery systems firm, which turned on a 1-megawatt facility last year, and the newly built State Compensation Insurance Fund, which in October activated a set of 300-kilowatt panels turned skyward above its parking lot, which can be seen by drivers going north or south along Interstate 505 near I-80.

"It tells companies that we are open for business," Augustine said, then quipped, "We have great sun -- and fog that makes people from San Francisco feel right at home. Mariani has put us on the map."

SunEdison, under its solar power purchase agreement, will charge no more than current retail costs for electricity supplied by the seven acres of solar panels. The economic lure for Mariani, of course, was the provision that stabilizes those rates for the life of the contract, 20 years. Most of the savings for Mariani will come during summer months, when PG&E boosts its rates during high-demand hours. On weekends, when the plant is closed, Mariani can sell power from its solar system to the PG&E grid and recoup some costs.

Company spokeswoman Kimberly Hathaway noted that during the first 20 years of production, the zero-emission system will reduce by more than 30 million pounds the amount of carbon dioxide that would have been spewed into the earth's atmosphere if the power had come from fossil fuels.

In an era of fluctuating but mostly historically increasing energy costs, corporate interest in renewable energy sources has burgeoned across the state, country and world, in part because the supply of fossil fuels is finite and diminishing.

In a 2007 report, the U.S. Department of Energy noted that concern over the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels has helped to spur interest in alternative fuels that are less polluting. However, renewable energy sources still make up only a small share of U.S. domestic energy production (about 6.8 percent or excluding hydropower about 4 percent). The major reason for this is the relatively higher cost (in some cases two to four times that of power obtained from traditional fuels).

At the Mariani plant, as it is elsewhere, the solar energy, an increasingly common source of electricity, will be generated using heat and light from the sun. The photovoltaic cells are made of semi-conducting materials that directly convert sunlight to electricity without any harmful waste product.

According to the DOE, the downside to solar energy is its heavy dependence on a range of factors, including location, time of year and weather.

Public can review market's plans for Suisun City

Public can review market's plans for Suisun City
By Ian Thompson | Daily Republic | December 05, 2008

SUISUN CITY - Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is moving forward with plans to open a store in Suisun City early next year.

On Tuesday, the Suisun Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on architectural plans the British-owned chain submitted for its proposed site in the former Albertsons store in the Sunset Shopping Center.

Fresh & Easy wants half of the space once occupied by Albertsons and will install a new main entrance to the left of the previous supermarket's entrance.

This is the second new business that announced in the past few months that it is moving into the Sunset Shopping Center.

Travis Credit Union turned the former Radio Shack location next door to the Albertsons site into a new branch office. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Thursday.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Oregon crew plows through Suisun Slough to remove silt

Oregon crew plows through Suisun Slough to remove silt
By Ian Thompson DAILY REPUBLIC December 05, 2008

Rob Lowrey clears debris caught in the auger of the dredger Nehalem before starting work Friday morning on the Suisun Slough. The auger cuts through the floor of the slough in a wide arc while the silt is sucked away through a large pipe. Photo by Brad Zweerink

SUISUN CITY - The dredger Nehalem greets each morning with a wet growl as the boom-mounted auger is started to cut loose the silt that is then sucked into a pipe from the bottom of the Suisun Slough.

It sweeps slowly back and forth using pylons, or 'spuds,' driven into the mud like a gate post, deepening a fan-like area of the slough before pulling up the posts and advancing to a new location a little farther up the channel.

Sixteen hours later, the dredgers, under the direction of supervisor Vern Scovell, shut down for the night to start again the next day in their quest to make Suisun City's marina deep enough for its boaters to use for the next six years.

Scovell, who grew up on the Nehalem River in Oregon, has been in the dredging business for 45 years. He supervises the small fleet of vessels now in the Suisun Slough. The fleet includes a floating workshop and supply ship called the Eland, two dredgers and a small support boat called the Bar Fly.

'We have everything to support the dredging that we can think of,' Scovell said of the tons of pipes, gears, cable, engine parts and crew supplies carried aboard the Eland.

The Eland brings in the dredgers, which are slid down the vessel's back ramp once it arrives at the dredging location.

Scovell and his crew have dug up and pumped out silt and mud that have choked boat channels and harbors from Alaska to Southern California. They have even ventured into the Pacific Ocean as far as Midway Island for work.

'And old Mother Nature keeps silting them in,' Scovell quipped in reference to all the harbors he has cleared.

The dredgers have occasionally pulled up whatever people have lost or dumped into the water, which has ranged from large rocks to indoor/outdoor carpeting.'

Thursday night, we got two anchors that were stuck in the dredger,' Scovell said when asked what he has encountered here thus far.

Each time, the dredger has to be shut down so that the crew can clear the obstruction from the dredger's auger or pipes.

The worst was a rock dredged up during a job in Eureka 'that split the pump like an eggshell' and threatened to sink the dredger as water poured into the vessel.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Salvation Army may take reins

Salvation Army may take reins
By Reporter Staff
Posted: 12/08/2008

The Suisun City Council has identified The Salvation Army as its top pick for further discussions regarding taking over the community center shuttered by the North Bay YMCA.

This step allows both sides to focus on bringing back youth and family programs that are vital to supporting and strengthening the Suisun City community, city officials said in a press release.

The City Council Ad Hoc Committee and Citizens' Advisory Committee assigned to review proposals from seven organizations wanting to re-open the facility, unanimously selected The Salvation Army as the top choice based upon its commitment to families, communities and the high level of service evident in more than 360 recreation centers it operates across the nation.

In making this determination, the top priorities of the City Council Ad Hoc and Citizens' Advisory committees were to ensure:

* Commitment to a safe place for children when schools are closed;
* Commitment to partner with other community groups for facility usage;
*Maximum access to programs regardless of ability to pay;
* Pool operations;
* Basketball court usage; and
* Fitness center, including machines and free weights.

Representatives of the city and the Salvation Army have begun discussions on a financial arrangement to take on operations of this facility that meets the fiscal and service needs of both parties. Program and facility assessments are under way. Timelines for reopening the facility are expected to become clearer after the first of the year.

After a rigorous series of interviews and site visits, the Salvation Army rose to the top of the list because of the quality of its operations, its desire to provide services not otherwise available in the community, and its commitment to becoming part of the community, city officials said.

"The Salvation Army is much more than 'bell ringers' during the Christmas holidays and service providers to the homeless and other people in crisis," said City Manager Suzanne Bragdon. "Their services are far-reaching and include the operation of more than 360 community recreation facilities similar to what is being proposed in Suisun City. They will be a welcome addition to our community."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Salvation Army marches into Suisun City

Salvation Army marches into Suisun City
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 04, 2008

SUISUN CITY - Better programs tailored to the community and stronger financial support are at the core of what the Salvation Army plans to bring if it becomes the operator of the former YMCA facility on Wigeon Way.

'We will rejuvenate the swimming pool, give the center a thorough painting and brighten it up to make people want to be there,' said Capt. Fred Rasmussen, the Salvation Army's North Bay counties coordinator.

The Salvation Army wants to buy the building to offer youth, family and senior programs as well as centralize its administration for the Solano County Corps.

'The opportunity that exists in Suisun City does not come along very often,' Rasmussen said.

The 143-year-old international Christian charity organization is the City Council's choice to run the former North Bay YMCA facility. City officials and the Salvation Army are in the process of discussing the financial aspects of the Salvation Army's proposal.

The Salvation Army is also appraising the facility's value to see whether its plan is financially viable.

Repayment of a $2 million loan used 12 years ago to renovate the facility and build the swimming pool is part of that equation. Rasmussen said the Salvation Army may absorb the debt the city holds with the property.

'We are only interested in a purchasing arrangement,' Rasmussen said. 'It doesn't do anybody any good to be spending your money on rent.'

A sports marketing firm has been hired to determine what the center should offer 'so we can design programs that people want,' Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen expected some programs will be established quickly. Others will take time 'because we want to make the right decision for the community.'

'Part of our plan is to get it up and running, but also to ensure it stays a quality program with good equipment,' he said.

That includes establishing a business advisory committee and creating user groups from a cross-section of people who use the center.

'We are in it for the long haul,' Rasmussen said.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Renovation work is nearly complete at Dover Park

Renovation work is nearly complete at Dover Park
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | December 04, 2008

Nito Barajas, left, and Manuel Lacanaria, with R&R Maher Construction Co. in Vallejo, put the final touches on a sidewalk in Dover Park Wednesday. The park's renovation is nearly complete and is expected to reopen by early 2009. Photo by Brad Zweerink

FAIRFIELD - Dover Park is expected to reopen by early 2009 after being closed since the start of this year.

Parks officials said this week they are primarily waiting for a layer of sod to take root before letting people return to the park, which is located at the corner of Travis Boulevard and Flamingo Drive.

'Our hope is the end of the month or the first part of the next month,' city Parks Planner Fred Beiner said

The landscaping is the final stage of a major renovation of Dover Park. The project included draining the park's two ponds for bottom resurfacing and bank reinforcement.

The park also received soft rubber surfaces in the playgrounds instead of the processed wood material, a lighted concrete perimeter path and play equipment for young children.

All that's left is waiting time to allow for the sod to take root and for some specialty grasses along the ponds to germinate, Beiner said. How long that takes depends primarily on the weather. Some trees have not yet been planted, but Beiner said that will not delay the opening.

The city is also looking for a local service club that would be willing to again stock the two ponds with fish.

'Generally, what has happened in years past is the service clubs have stocked predominantly bass in the lake and sponsored a fishing derby,' Beiner said, 'but the derby people didn't catch all the fish, so some were left for the rest of the year.'

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

In the Spirit of Giving: Nine Business Leaders Honored for Their Contributions

In the Spirit of Giving: Nine Business Leaders Honored for Their Contributions
By Richard Bammer
Posted: 12/04/2008

A collective pat on the back for kindness, volunteerism, supporting local towns and cities, business and personal achievement -- not more unrelenting news about the global economy in turmoil -- was on the menu besides steak, chicken and vegetables at the Spirit of Solano awards luncheon Wednesday at Travis Air Force Base.

Nine people and their businesses, each nominated by area chambers of commerce, were recognized at the 13th annual ceremony, which honors not only the chambers but also businesses which embody "the true spirit of Solano," said David Robinson, senior vice president of the banking division at Westamerica Bank, the event sponsor.

While the downshifting economy has taken its toll on businesses and people, it "cannot take our location away from us -- a place of outstanding citizens giving back," said Michael Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation.

Vacaville chamber president and CEO Gary Tatum introduced Tom Phillippi, owner of Phillippi Engineering Inc., as this year's Vacaville recipient.

A Pittsburgh, Pa., native, Phillippi, the designer of Downtown Vacaville's Three Flags Monument who recently celebrated his 25th year in business, has "a strong sense of duty to the business community," Tatum said.

Phillippi, he added, is a person noted for his "integrity, high business standards and fights for what's right."

Tatum also noted that Phillippi was instrumental in the passage of state Senate Bill 1608, which provides protection for businesses from frivolous lawsuits that claim violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Looking out at more than 300 people gathered in the base's Delta Breeze Club, Phillippi, a former director of the chamber board of directors, said, "Giving back to the community is what we do."

The Vallejo chamber honored Jack Anthony, owner of Jack Anthony's 7 Flags Car Wash, who also developed a program called Helping Hands, which helps to raise money for Vallejo charities and nonprofit groups.

Anthony, whose parents started the business 56 years ago, said it is important for people to seize opportunities when they arise, especially during challenging economic downturns.

Other recipients were Alan Schwartzman of Benicia, a Realtor with Advanced Mortgage Services and a Benicia city councilman; Dixon businessman Rob Salaber, owner of Salaber and Associates, who has contributed to city events such as Lambtown USA, the Dixon May Fair Parade and also to Dixon athletics programs; and Paul Andersen of Rio Vista, an employee of Rosetta Resources Inc., an oil and natural gas company in Rio Vista, who has supported the Rio Vista Bass Festival.

Also recognized were Gregoria M. Torres of Vallejo, a real estate agent with ARS Realty and Mortgage of Vallejo, the current treasurer of the Vallejo chamber and an organizer of a pending humanitarian medical mission; and Feysan Lodde of Fairfield, owner of MV Transportation, one of the largest U.S. providers of transit services for the elderly and disabled.

Lodde noted that one of her "proudest moments" as a business owner was sending 50 vans to post-Katrina New Orleans to evacuate distressed people.

"Kindness is something we all need," Lodde said.

Among others honored were Peggy Cohen-Thompson of Vallejo, a broker with Prestige Realty of Vallejo and the first president of the Vallejo Business Alliance; and Rene Villalta, publisher of La Voz Hispana magazine.