Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 2009

Table of Contents
-  Real Estate Roundup (August 2009)
-  PG&E Solar Project Marks Construction Milestone
-  Did you know?
Real Estate Roundup - (August 2009)
CBRE   (
-  767 Eubanks Drive, Vacaville – 65,000 SF lease renewal to CSK
-  640 Eubanks Court, Suite 900, Vacaville – 5,600 SF lease to Novartis
Colliers International   (
-  5357-5365 Industrial Way, Benicia – 13,930 SF lease renewal to Areva NP, Inc.
-  2701 Maxwell Drive, Fairfield – 150,000 SF lease renewal to Amcor Pet Packaging USA
-  324 Campus Lane, Fairfield – 13,930 SF lease expansion to Private Industry Council
Cushman & Wakefield (
-  499 Edison Court, Fairfield - 5,100 SF lease to Westinghouse
-  499 Edison Court, Fairfield – 3,300 SF lease to Michael Ellis 
-  2850 Cordelia Road, Fairfield - 1,700 SF lease to NdataStor 
-  380 Chadbourne Road, Fairfield – 1,700 SF lease renewal to Honeywell 
Premier Commercial (
-  260 Link Road, Fairfield – 3,500 SF lease to Living Waters Ministries, Inc.
The Wiseman Company   (
-  2420 Martin Road, Fairfield – 7,500 SF lease to EMQ Families First    
PG&E Solar Project Marks Construction Milestone

For many construction projects, the biggest challenge is getting past all the reviews and winning all the approvals needed to actually put shovels in the ground.

PG&E's 2 megawatt solar photovoltaic pilot project--named the Vaca-Dixon Solar Station after the electrical substation it neighbors--has achieved that milestone and is moving quickly to become a reliable source of clean, renewable electric power later this year.

This photo, taken September 14, shows the first panels going up. They are polycrystalline modules from Solon Corporation, which PG&E selected after competitive bid as the turnkey supplier to build the facility.

Solon is building the facility with help from Silverwood Energy, Inc., a California disabled veteran business enterprise.

The pilot represents the utility's first step in implementing its plan to promote 500 MW of clean new PV power over five years--250 MW to be built by the utility and 250 MW by independent developers. (The plan, proposed in February, is under consideration by the California Public Utilities Commission.)

If the projects are approved and finished by 2015, they are expected to deliver more than 1,000 gigawatt hours of power each year, equal to the annual consumption of about 150,000 average homes. In all, this program would meet over 1.3 percent of PG&E's electric demand.

For more information on Solano’s energy opportunities be sure to attend the Solano EDC Member Breakfast Event, November 19th, 2009 on the Solano Energy Cluster Study.

Marshall, Jonathan.  “PG&E Solar Project Marks Construction Milestone”.  PG&E.  Web.  September 15, 2009. 
Did you know?

Queen Elizabeth II was one of many celebrities known to stop by the Nut Tree for a visit.

In fact, in 1983 they catered a state luncheon for her in the rotunda of the State Capitol in Sacramento serving sole and shrimp as the entrĂ©e (They were an early leader in a cooking style called ‘California Cuisine’).   Trying to please the Queen, the Nut Tree staff brewed 50 different types of teas so the queen could pick her favorite.  She decided she would have a coffee instead, later switching to a gin and tonic.

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 (
Sandy Person, Vice-President (
Pat Uhrich, Office Manager (
Andy Turba, Special Projects (

Solano Economic Development Corporation
360 Campus Lane, Suite 102, Fairfield, CA 94534
Phone: (707) 864-1855 Fax: (707) 864-6621

Common heart procedure comes to Solano County

Common heart procedure comes to Solano County
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | September 29, 2009

Dr. Gurinder Dhillon, center, performs a procedure in the cardiac catherization lab at NorthBay Medical Center Tuesday morning while being assisted by scrub nurse Shelly Navarro, RN, second from left. NorthBay started offering coronary angioplasty procedures at their Fairfield facility in late August. Photo by Brad Zweerink

FAIRFIELD - Dr. Gurinder Dhillon and a four-person team inserted a catheter into the coronary artery of a sedated 77-year-old Vacaville woman on Tuesday and used it to inflate a tiny balloon within the artery.

The expanding balloon pressed against a tiny mesh coil, which in turn crushed plaque into the artery wall. An 80 percent blockage got cleared up. The result: The woman should get relief from shortness of breath and chest pains.

'We're not reinventing the wheel,' said Dhillon, an interventional cardiologist at NorthBay Medical Center, when the procedure had ended.

Indeed, Dhillon has been doing coronary angioplasty since 1990 and has been at NorthBay Medical Center since 1991. But neither he nor anyone else had done angioplasty in Solano County before August.

In past years, the woman would have had a catheter placed in a coronary artery at NorthBay to look for blockages. Should doctors have found a problem, they would have had to wait and done the angioplasty at either John Muir Medical Center in Contra County or Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa County.

No Solano County hospital offered angioplasties. Local doctors couldn't find a problem and then correct it during the same procedure. The patient and the family members who wanted to be with them had to travel.

In April, NorthBay Medical Center opened a $4.6 million surgical suite where doctors can perform open heart surgery. That provided the emergency backup needed for coronary angioplasty. NorthBay in late August started offering the procedure in a cardiac catheterization lab recently remodeled at a cost of $3.6 million.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Income up in Solano from 2007

Income up in Solano from 2007
By Reporter Staff
Posted: 09/30/2009

Household incomes grew slightly from 2007 to 2008 in Solano County despite a slumping economy that statewide left more residents having to make do with less, according to new census figures.

The numbers, which provide a snapshot of economic conditions in 2008, were released Tuesday but are already outdated, since they do not reflect state worker furloughs and other cutbacks across the region since the beginning of the year.

Nonetheless, the report offers a glimpse of local incomes following the housing bust and while some neighboring counties' numbers looked bleak, Solano showed some bright spots.

The median household income in Solano County last year was $70,635, up 1.7 percent from $69,493 in 2007, adjusting for inflation, the census figures show. The Solano figures were better than statewide numbers which showed a median household income of $61,021, down 2 percent from 62,280 in 2007.

In Vacaville, the median income was even better, growing from $71,384 in 2007 to $71,493 in 2008.

Fairfield households showed an even more dramatic increase, with the median growing from $67,981 in 2007 to $76,082 in 2008.

Vallejo, the only other Solano County city for which figures were released, did not fare as well. Its median household income dropped from $63,274 in 2007 to $60,327 in 2008.

When it comes to overall poverty rates, Solano County again showed improvement. Its poverty rate declined from 9.6 percent in 2007 to 8.4 percent in 2008.

In Vacaville, the poverty rate dropped from 6.1 percent in 2007 to 5.8 percent in 2008.

In Fairfield, the poverty rate declined from 10.4 percent in 2007 to 9.3 percent in 2008.

Vallejo, too, saw its overall poverty rate decline from 11.8 percent in 2007 to 10.7 percent in 2008.

In contrast, the statewide poverty figure jumped from 12.4 percent in 2007 to 13.3 percent in 2008.

And the status of Solano's children also improved. In 2007, some 13 percent of children in the county lived in poverty. By 2008, that figure dropped to 10.9 percent.

In Vacaville, the children in poverty figure dropped from 7.5 percent in 2007 to 6.6 percent in 2008. Fairfield's figure was unchanged at 13.1 percent while Vallejo's figure dropped dramatically from 19.4 percent in 2007 to 16.1 percent in 2008.

Statewide, the story was more bleak, with children in poverty numbers growing from 17.3 percent in 2007 to 18.5 percent in 2008.

New I-80 carpool lanes ready to roll this week

New I-80 carpool lanes ready to roll this week
By Sarah Rohrs/ Times-Herald, Vallejo
Posted: 09/30/2009

Seen from the Travis Boulevard overcrossing in Fairfield on Tuesday, high occupancy vehicle lanes along Interstate 80 will open Thursday morning. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

Common on many Bay Area freeways, a carpool lane makes its Solano County debut in time for Thursday morning's commute.

The 8.7-mile length of carpool lane is on westbound Interstate 80 between Airbase Parkway in Fairfield and Red Top Road, a few miles north of Vallejo, Caltrans officials announced Tuesday.

The new carpool, or High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane, will help reduce congestion in Fairfield and the notoriously congested I-80/I-680 interchange, officials said.

"It's going to let people commute in the center lane through the city of Fairfield with fewer problems," California Highway Patrol public information officer Marvin Williford said.

The new HOV lane will be in the far left -- or inside -- lane and be restricted to vehicles with two or more occupants.

The time restrictions are between 5 and 9 a.m. during the morning commute, and 3 to 7 p.m. during the evening commute, Caltrans area construction manager Gerry Santiago said.

Solo drivers using the new lane will get a break until the eastbound HOV lane opens by the end of October, or early November, Williford said.

Once enforcement begins, Williford said there will be no grace period.

"Carpool cheaters will be watched closely," Williford added.

The fine for a first offense is $440, which increases substantially for repeat offenders, he added.

The new HOV lane will not connect to other HOV lanes on either the north or south said.

However, Caltrans regional project manager Nicolas Endrawos said the lane will help relieve Fairfield's bottleneck.

Caltrans has long-range plans to build HOV lanes east to I-505, and from Highway 37 in Vallejo to the Carquinez Bridge, Endrawos said.

By requiring at least two occupants per vehicle, the carpool lane will encourage motorists to share rides, thereby reducing the overall number of vehicles, Caltrans public information officer Traci Ruth said.

Nearly 150,000 vehicles travel on I-80 in Solano County, which increases to 213,000 cars per day in the stretch through Fairfield, Ruth said.

The construction firm of OC Jones & Sons, Inc. is building the new lanes for $29.5 million. The project has also included a new concrete median barrier. Interstate 80 in Solano County has also received 23 miles of new pavement.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

California gets $34M stimulus for rural transit

California gets $34M stimulus for rural transit
Sacramento Business Journal - by Melanie Turner Staff writer
Monday, September 28, 2009, 2:56pm PDT

California has been awarded $34 million in federal economic stimulus funding for transit projects in rural communities.

The grants, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will be distributed by the California Department of Transportation to 77 transit agencies for 141 projects across the state, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Monday.

Money will be used to rehabilitate and renovate buses, shelters and transit maintenance facilities across the state. The four county Sacramento region captured about $1.5 million of the $34 million in funding.

Locally, grants include $251,000 for preventative maintenance to Placer County Public Works, $502,509 for hardware and software for 35 electronic fare boxes for the Yolo County Transportation District, and $152,000 for a 22-passenger replacement commuter bus for Sacramento County. Other local recipients of the transit grants include the city of Lincoln ($251,098), the city of Rio Vista ($75,000), and the El Dorado County Transit Authority ($769,133).

“My administration is working around the clock to pump President Obama’s federal stimulus funding into California quickly and responsibly to help drive our economy down the road to recovery,” Schwarzenegger said, in a news release.

Lowe's buys property for Vallejo store

Lowe's buys property for Vallejo store
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Posted: 09/25/2009

The probability of a Lowe's in Vallejo moved a giant step closer with the completed sale this week of property where the home improvement retailer plans to build a store, both city and store officials said Thursday.

Team Superstores owner Ken Ross, who had owned the property across from the dealership on Auto Mall Parkway, said a confidentiality agreement prevents him from disclosing the sale price.

The deal finalized Wednesday, Ross said.

"So, we're getting a Lowe's in Vallejo!" Ross said. "I'm excited. I think it's a huge win-win for the city, for me. They'll be a great neighbor."

The city's building department now awaits the submission of plans by the firm, Community Analyst Annette Taylor said.

"Those will then go to Contra Costa County for plan checking, and once the plans are approved, we should see a shovel in the ground," Taylor said.

Though no timeline for presenting the plans to the city is yet available, Lowe's spokeswoman Maureen Rich said the company plans to build a 103,000 square-foot store on the site.

"A store that size will create up to 120 jobs, and means a $12 million investment by Lowe's," she said.

While some Lowe's stores are 117,000 square feet, the size of the one being built in Vallejo is the one the firm uses "for a smaller market," Rich said.

Once construction begins, a Lowe's takes about nine months to build, she said.

"We look forward to opening our doors and serving the Vallejo community as soon as possible," Rich said.

The deal takes a lot of financial pressure off Ross, who describes the past year and a half or so in the auto business as "dicey."

"This alleviates a lot of extra debt load we were carrying, and pretty much secures our future," he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or

Touro hires new provost, COO

Touro hires new provost, COO
By Sarah Rohrs
Posted: 09/27/2009 12:01:33 AM PDT

A California State University dean with extensive health care experience has been named Touro University's new provost and chief operating officer.

Marilyn Hopkins, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at CSU, Sacramento, was chosen after an extensive national search. She begins her new job on the Mare Island campus in a part-time role Oct. 5, and will assume full-time duties in December.

Hopkins' hiring represents a "new beginning" for the private university, particularly in the health care and education fields, Touro's Director of External Relations Jesus Mena said.

The school's prior provost was Harvey Kaye, who served from June 2006 to March 2008, and has since moved back to Touro College in New York, Mena said.

Touro senior provost and chief executive officer Michael Harter said Hopkins has "vast experience in health science education," and is well-versed in the nation's emerging health care reform policies.

For the last 18 months, Harter has overseen administration of both the California and the Nevada Touro campuses. He will head up Touro's western division while also managing daily operations of the Nevada campus.

Mena said Hopkins will not, at this time, focus on Touro's previous efforts to develop Mare Island's north end, particularly to build a cancer treatment and research center. Those plans were withdrawn in March due to lack of financing.

Hopkins said she is excited to lead the campus, looks forward to getting involved in the community, and to meet business, health care and education representatives.

Touro University's primary focus on preparing graduate and doctoral students for careers in health care and education is "very appealing," Hopkins said.

The school's interdisciplinary programs can help address the nation and state's health care and education needs at a critical time, she said. Further, the national dialogue around improving those areas gives Touro unique opportunities, she said.

Hopkins, 60, is a 35-year registered nurse and serving in her 10th year as dean. She earned her doctorate and a master's degree in nursing from the University of California, San Francisco.

She was a nursing faculty member at Cal State University, Sacramento for 23 years, and promoted to associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services in 1997.

Contact staff writer Sarah Rohrs at or (707) 553-6832.

Budget is event topic

Budget is event topic
Published By Times Herald
Posted: 09/29/2009

The impact of California's raid on city and county budgets will be explained when California Redevelopment Association Executive Director John Shirey addresses the Solano Economic Development Corp. at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday at Fairfield's Hilton Garden Inn, 2200 Gateway Court.

To help reduce its budget deficits, the state has turned to municipalities and counties, reducing funding.

"The moves at the state level have and will result in some drastic changes in local communities," Solano EDC President Michael Ammann said. "Literally millions will be lost to Solano cities and county governments because of the state's inability to balance its own budget."

The event costs $25 for EDC members, $35 for others. To register, call 864-1855.

Town leaders see base site as Rio Vista's environmental gem in the making

Town leaders see base site as Rio Vista's environmental gem in the making
By Susan Winlow | Daily Republic | September 28, 2009

Rio Vista mayor Jan Vick looks over the remains of the abandon Army Reserve Base on the Sacramento River. Photo by Mike Greener

RIO VISTA - Along the banks of the Sacramento River in the tiny hamlet of Rio Vista lie 28 unused acres -- the former Rio Vista Army Reserve Center.

In its present state, the locked-up base could be a photographer's dream with its river vistas, evening sunsets and old buildings, some crumbling amid overgrown ivy and blackberry bushes.

But the facility, which is approaching the century mark, and the land it sits on is a labor of love for current mayor Jan Vick and former mayors Jerry Rubier, Fred Harris, Marci Coglianese and Eddie Woodruff, who all see a long-term redevelopment vision.

The vision has been a lesson in tenacity and patience for everyone involved. Moving at a snail's pace with economically strapped government agencies in tow are tentative plans for the state's Department of Water Resources to put in a science center and more recent plans with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to locate a Delta smelt fish hatchery on the property.

'This is such a great project and it's certainly a win no matter what your political view is on things,' Coglianese said. 'That's why it's so alive.'

The federal agency has visited twice to view the possible fish hatchery location. Coglianese said the location was determined to be a good place for a refuge Delta smelt population and possibly some breeding but, Vick said, the agency needs time to find money for the project.

That could be a problem. Coglianese said the economy is probably the redevelopment project's biggest obstacle.

'It's pretty hard to get money for anything right now,' she said.

Financing the science center could be easier, Coglianese said, because the center's function is already in effect. The science center, which has been in the works for about six years, would give the DWR and other agencies an efficient location in which to do research and monitor the Delta's ecosystems. Currently work outposts and marine vessels are scattered throughout the Delta.

'They're in multiple facilities . . . all over the place, all over the periphery of the Delta . . . so this is an ideal location,' Coglianese said.

The project would eventually save money but the outlay would be costly, said Jerry Johns, deputy director of the DWR.

'In the long run it would be a better use of resources and save money,' he said, adding the project would probably be built using revenue bonds.

'Our contractors have a much better bonding rate that the state of California.'

For this science center, the city is operating under a signed memorandum of understanding with the state, which is due to expire soon. Vick said there should be no problem renewing the MOU but the city is anxious to move on to a more secure and permanent contract.

'The next step is to really get them to find the money to start working on the location, lease, design of the building,' she said.

The state is still interested in the project but it takes time to move the process through all the steps, Johns said. The state is still a couple years away from starting any type of construction, he added.

'We've got to go through our state approval process, which is cumbersome at best,' he said.

To 'help' the state and federal agencies along, the city appointed a seven-member steering committee last month that includes, among others, the former mayors, all of whom have been involved with the base project.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

New bridge to ease access to Suisun Marsh

New bridge to ease access to Suisun Marsh
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | September 28, 2009

Construction crews work on a new replacement bridge for Grizzly Island Road over the Hill Slough Monday morning. The existing one-lane bridge will be turned into a fishing platform. Photo by Brad Zweerink

SUISUN CITY - Solano County by next spring should gain a better bridge taking Grizzly Island Road over Hill Slough and will acquire an adjacent fishing platform as well.

Construction is under way on a $2 million replacement bridge on the narrow road leading into Suisun Marsh, a world of tules, sloughs, duck clubs and state wildlife areas open to the public. Workers have pounded 58 concrete piles into the ground to support the bridge deck, which has yet to be put in place.

The new fishing platform will be the old bridge. The county is leaving it in place, a nod to the number of people who fish along the shores of Hill Slough.

'I think it will be quite popular once it's done,' county Engineering Manager Paul Wiese said.

The old concrete bridge was built in 1950 and rests on 23 wooden piles that have deteriorated over the years. The county had to make emergency repairs about a decade ago, Wiese said.

'It's really not in the condition you would like to see for a bridge,' Wiese said.

Plus, the bridge is only one lane. Drivers must stop near it and yield to traffic coming from the opposite direction. The new bridge will be wider.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Solano gets transit funds

Solano gets transit funds
By Sarah Rohrs/Times-Herald, Vallejo
Posted: 09/29/2009

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus money will help promote public transportation in two northern Solano cities and buy four new buses to transport senior and disabled riders, according to the Solano Transportation Authority.

California received $34 million in transit funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the state announced Monday.

In Solano County, the cities of Dixon and Rio Vista learned they will get the federal funds designed to promote public transportation in rural areas. Grants will go to 141 projects represented by 77 transit agencies statewide.

Some $300,000 will replace three 18-passenger paratransit vehicles in Dixon, and one similar bus in Vallejo, STA executive director Daryl Halls said.

"Every little bit helps," Halls said of the federal stimulus money coming to Solano County.

Meanwhile, Dixon will get $381,676 to help build a municipal service center to house offices, maintenance and buses, City Manager Nancy Huston said.

"It's a building that we are going to construct in our yard for our transit vehicles," she said. "The projects have to be shovel-ready to be eligible."

Dixon will also get $48,000 to help maintain its "Ready Ride" bus service that takes passengers around town and to Vacaville, Huston said.

Rio Vista will get $75,000 to help fund maintenance of the city's buses, specifically to pay for tools and a mechanic, city transit coordinator John Andoh said.

Trust secures 488 acres

Trust secures 488 acres
By Danny Bernardini
Posted: 09/29/2009

Nearly 500 acres of prime agricultural land in the Dixon Ridge area is now protected after five years of work by the Solano Land Trust and other partners to secure an easement.

The 488-acre conservation easement, known as Miles/Kidwell, was purchased for $4.4 million and is outside of Dixon, just north of the Milk Farm sign on both sides of Interstate 80.

Using local, state and federal funds, the purchase was a joint venture between the land trust, the city of Dixon, city of Davis, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the California Department of Conservation.

"This project proves that cities can control their borders by creating greenbelts such as the one that exists between Dixon and Davis," Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor said in a press release. "This collegial relationship has enabled both cities to protect our precious farmland which supports the economy of both Solano and Yolo counties."

The property will join the 196 acres of McConeghy North/Ebey Laughton easement and the 254-acre McConeghy South easement in the Dixon-Davis greenbelt, all part of a local conservation plan, which has been supported by Solano County supervisors since 2007.

The Kidwell Family historically owned and farmed both the Miles and Kidwell farms, and, with this easement, the current owner of the Kidwell farm, Denny Kidwell, repurchased the Miles Farm. The farms will be merged under this easement, according to Audrey Peller, land transaction specialist with Solano Land Trust.

Because of its rich soil, the area is ideal for row crops like alfalfa, wheat, tomatoes and corn. Along with the potential to grow crops, the area has also been targeted several times in the past for development.

Nicole Byrd, land trust executive director, pointed to the Association of Bay Area Governments' studies indicating that Solano County will lose 16,000 acres of farm and grazing land by 2020.

The NRCS targets properties under the greatest threat of development and then works through partnerships with the state of California and local groups, like Solano Land Trust, to find the money to protect high-quality farmland in priority areas, such as Solano County.

"All of the partners involved in the Dixon-Davis greenbelt are making a significant difference in changing not only those dire projections, but the continued long-term viability of agriculture in Solano County and the state," Byrd said.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Touro University selects new leader

Touro University selects new leader
Daily Republic staff | September 25, 2009

FAIRFIELD - A new provost has been selected for Touro University after a nationwide search.

Despite that search throughout the U.S., Marilyn Hopkins was found at California State University, Sacramento. She is currently the dean of the College of Health and Human Service at that institution.

Hopkins will begin her duties, which also include chief operating officer, Oct. 5 at Touro on a part-time basis and will become full time in December.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Benicia hopes to find tenant for historic Arsenal mansion

Benicia hopes to find tenant for historic Arsenal mansion

Posted: 09/28/2009 02:00:21 AM PDT

BENICIA -- After giving the Commanding Officer's Quarters a new lease on life, the city is trying to lease it out.
It may house professional offices, a company that hosts wedding receptions and other events or, less likely, a restaurant, among other possibilities. Some space may be reserved for community groups, officials say.
A plan to find prospective tenants for the 150-year-old Arsenal mansion was approved last week by the Benicia City Council. The plan paves the way for possible tenant selection by year's end. That coincides with possible adoption of a plan mapping out the growth of the city's historic military district southeast of the Interstate-680 and I-780 interchange.
"The assumption is they would be done at the same time," City Manager Jim Erickson said.
The city-owned Commanding Officer's Quarters is in the heart of the Arsenal. The stucco-covered brick mansion housed 35 U.S. Army commanding officers until the base closed in 1963. From 1976 to 1986, it was home to the Commandant's Residence Restaurant.
In recent years, a $3.6 million rehabilitation project -- partially funded by state grants -- has restored the structure. Future tenants, however, may be required to pay for added improvements, city officials say.
This year the city allocated $150,000 to install air conditioning and phone and data lines.
"It's time for us to get some money back," Vice Mayor Tom Campbell said. "So far it's been nothing but a drain."
The recommended five-year lease term would satisfy the council's desire to get a tenant in the building but also preserve options for the future, according to a Parks and Community Services Department staff report.
Prospective tenants of the 8,883-square-foot building will be asked to submit letters of interest along with proposed rent and other terms.
City officials say they will use local brokers and a national commercial real estate database to look for tenants.
Campbell and other officials say the search may take a while.
"The business that wants to move in will have to have some sort of inclination to be in a historic setting," Campbell said. "It's off the beaten track."
E-mail Tony Burchyns at or call 553-6831.

Suisun hotel anticipates October opening

Suisun hotel anticipates October opening
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | September 25, 2009

Victor Sandoval, of Golden Gate Palms, works on the landscaping in front of the Hampton Inn and Suites. the new hotel will be opening sometime in October. Photo by Chris Jordan

SUISUN CITY - A new guest is about to arrive in Suisun City.

Officials at Hampton Inn and Suites are preparing for an early October opening for the prominent new facility off Highway 12. Most hotels in the area have been geared toward travelers and business clients, but they say they believe the region is ripe for a hotel with a different role.

'We expect, certainly, to have a big component of . . . business travelers,' said Tom Birdsall, managing partner with Basin Street Hospitality. 'We also expect quite a few leisure travelers as Suisun City and the whole area becomes better known as a destination.'

The hotel is located near the corner of Civic Center Boulevard and Lotz Way. The 102-room facility is now undergoing its last stages of preparation, moving in furniture and other touch-ups.

Cal Maritime senior claims Hearst/CSU award

Cal Maritime senior claims Hearst/CSU award

California Maritime Academy student Katherine Brookshier of Benicia has overcome adversity en route to a prized achievement award.
Brookshier, who once lived in a tent and barely graduated from high school because she was working to support her family, has won the William Randolph Hearst/California State University award.

Each year, each of the 23 CSU campuses can nominate a student. Winners, chosen on their superior academic performance and personal accomplishments, get $30,000.

Brookshier, 31, is a mechanical engineering major in her senior year. The third of six children, she focused in her teens on helping her financially hard-hit family rather than on her education, according to a school announcement.

After graduation, she took time off to save money and for cosmetology school, which she attended while working full time.

"I lost my job near the end, and wound up living in a tent for the last six months to make ends meet, but I kept my car, got my degree, and graduated tops in my class," she said.

Her career path led to jobs in health and beauty spas, and to work consulting and overseeing installation of a spa facility on a Hawaiian cruise liner. While in that position, people frequently asked her about her engineering background and she took that as a sign to check out a new discipline.

Since choosing Cal-Maritime to attend, Brookshier has secured numerous grants and loans to help pay for her education.

Brookshier has also worked as an assistant in the administration building and on the school's Golden Bear training ship.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mare Island college to offer undergraduate course

Mare Island college to offer undergraduate course
By Susan Winlow | Daily Republic | September 23, 2009

Krishan Rana, chair of the business and management department at Touro University, talks to Monir Tofangsazan, a public health graduate student at the school, while promoting Touro University's new bachelor of science in business and management Monday at Solano Community College's annual College and University Day. Photo by Brad Zweerink

FAIRFIELD - Answering a call to changing economic times, Touro University will offer an undergraduate business transfer program beginning in January 2010.

Currently the private university, which is located on Mare Island, offers education and medical-based graduate programs such as pharmacology. It's now expanding into the undergraduate realm by offering programs to juniors and seniors interested in obtaining a bachelor of science degree.

'This is a real good opportunity for people in Solano, Napa and adjoining counties to make use of this facility here so they can complete their baccalaureate,' said Krishan Rana, chairman of the new business and management department.

Once the program begins, it will be the only undergraduate business school located in Napa or Solano counties, Rana said, adding the next closest programs are at UC Berkeley or UC Davis.

The university won't offer basic core education. Lower division classes need to be completed at another facility and then transfer to Touro for the last two years. Students entering the program are required to have at least six units of English composition, six units of social/behavioral science, three units of college-level algebra and three units of U.S. history. At least 42 units must be completed at Touro and students need a minimum of 120 units to graduate.

Three business concentrations are being offered, all chosen with the emerging needs of the business world in mind, Rana said.

-- Global business and strategy management: Courses such a global supply chain, logistics management and international business will be offered.

'Most businesses are globalized these days,' Rana said. 'Basically products and services worth $2 trillion cross borders every single day.'

-- Health care management: Shortages in health care administrators capable of overseeing the health care system are prevalent. Rana said with baby boomers getting older, health care requirements will 'exponentially go up.' Courses in this concentration will range from economics to marketing to facilities management.

-- Security and risk management: Like airports, organizations need risk assessment and electronic security to protect their businesses. This concentration is wide-reaching in that it can aid in physical security as well as evaluating risks involved in investments. Classes include, among others, information systems, operations management, and computer and network security.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

Hiddenbrooke course ranked 9th nationally

Hiddenbrooke course ranked 9th nationally
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
Posted: 09/24/2009

Vallejo's Hiddenbrooke Golf Course was named the nation's ninth best public course for 2010 in the second annual Golf World "Readers' Choice Awards," magazine officials announced Wednesday.

The awards recognize the country's 50 best private, public and resort golf facilities, Golf World said, and are based solely on the input of readers. The lists will be published in the magazine's Sept. 28 issue.

"It's an honor to be recognized in a national survey," Hiddenbrooke Golf Club General Manager Ollie Becker said. "It's nice to have a facility of this caliber in Vallejo."

Becker credits having earned this "prestigious award" to "a great team that works really hard. We also earned 4.5 stars out of five from Golf Digest, which we're also proud of."

The full lists of Golf World's awards, including special online-only sections, can be viewed at

Golf World readers were asked to evaluate the nation's golf facilities based on 13 performance criteria, including course quality, conditions, reputation-prestige and service.

More than 46,000 individual facility ratings were received, magazine officials said.

Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., is the top-rated facility in the private category. No California facilities ranked in the top five in that category.

With seven, New Jersey has the most private facilities on the list of any state, followed by New York's five and Georgia and Pennsylvania with four each.

Golf World readers voted Forest Dunes Golf Club of Roscommon, Mich., the number one public facility. The only California facility ranked in the top five in that category was Stevinson Ranch Golf Club in Stevinson, which ranked fifth.

With seven, Michigan has the most facilities of any state on the public list, followed by Nevada with five and California and Florida with four each.

South Carolina's Kiawah Island Golf Resort was voted the No. 1 resort for the second consecutive year, according to the announcement.

Hawaii's eight resorts made it the state with the most resorts, followed by Florida with seven and California with five.

The California resorts that made the list were The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, at No. 36, Palm Desert's Marriott's Shadow Ridge Resort at No. 41, and Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells at No. 47.

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Vallejo High eager to show off library

Vallejo High eager to show off library
By Shauntel Lowe
Posted: 09/23/2009

Vallejo High School Principal Lloyd Cartwright is looking forward to showing off his site's standout features -- including its recently revamped library -- during an upcoming open house.

"I feel like we've died and gone to heaven with what we've got in there now," he said of the library.

The library has undergone a series of changes over the past few years thanks to state and local bond funding. With thousands of dollars worth of new books in the past few months, the library's transformation is complete.

It will be open for community viewing during the campus' back-to-school night Oct. 6.

"It's just a beautiful place to be in. I'm very proud of it," Cartwright said.

Various school clubs and local universities are expected to have booths at the back-to-school night.

The library's redevelopment is geared to provide students more information and resources to get them more involved in school.

Vallejo High Library Media Technician Diane Wyrick said circulation has gone up with the introduction of new fiction novels, particularly those from the popular Twilight series and urban fiction authors like Omar Tyree.

"The kids at this age -- if you don't present them with things they like to read, they don't read," Wyrick said.

Once a few kids noticed the new books, the word spread, Wyrick said.

The library's final transformation phase also included new furniture. Vallejo High senior D'Andre Bradford, one of Wyrick's student assistants, said he likes how a slew of new tables have replaced the old unsteady ones. There also are new shelves and computer tables.

Wyrick said the recent addition of improved search software has enabled students to more easily find books they want. Many female students search for romance novels, for instance, and can just type in the word "love" to find dozens or even hundreds of books on that topic.

The library, Cartwright and Wyrick agreed, has become a 21st Century media center.

"Everything's up to date now," Wyrick said.

Contact staff writer Shauntel Lowe at (707) 553-6835 or

Endives don't come easy

Endives don't come easy
By Richard Bammer
Posted: 09/23/2009

The endive (pronounced "Ohn-deeve") is the offspring of chicory, a lettuce-like plant (Chichorium intybus) of the composite family (radicchio, escarole, daisy, thistle, artichoke and chrysanthemum); it is somewhat bitter and its curled, narrow leaves are cooked or blanched and used for salads and appetizers. It never needs to be washed.

The somewhat bitter vegetable was discovered accidentally in the winter of 1830 in Belgium. A farmer forgot about some chicory roots he had in a cool, dark cellar. He intended to use them as a coffee substitute. However, by early spring of the next year, he noticed carrot-shaped roots had sprouted small, tapered buds at the top. Endives became a popular food in Belgium, Holland and northern France.

At California Vegetable Specialties in Rio Vista, the only place in the United States where endives are grown, production begins in the spring. Seeds are sown at a couple of farms, one in the Central Valley, the other in southern Oregon.

When fall and winter come, mechanized harvesting machines top the plants and dig up the roots. They are trucked to CVS, where they are packed tightly upright in 3-by-4-foot wooden trays and placed in temperature-controlled cold storage, dark and humid rooms, fertilized daily and grown hydroponically, that is, without soil. After a few weeks in the "forcing rooms," roots sprout. The small, bullet-shaped head grows atop the root.

The so-called California Pearl variety is a creamy yellow-white, the result of its growing in complete darkness. The company also grows two red endives. Belles Rouges is a cross with Treviso, a red chicory, and white endive. Endigia is a deep red variety, a cross between white endive and chioggia chicories from northwestern Italy.

Company president Richard Collins grows the Belgian variety at CVS.

The King of Endives

The King of Endives
Local businessman is only American grower of plant
By Richard Bammer
Posted: 09/23/2009

There is the story of how Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, working out of a garage in 1939 in Palo Alto, laid the groundwork for Silicon Valley.

Then there is the tale of Richard Collins, whose path to become the endive king of America started in his bedroom closet in Sacramento before his passion became a multimillion-dollar business in Solano County.

A high school senior in 1978, Collins - president of California Vegetable Specialties in Rio Vista, the only American grower of the somewhat bitter, edible lettuce-like plant - worked as a dishwasher at an upscale Sacramento restaurant. One night the owner, who was preparing a special repast for a birthday party, a meal which included endive, told him the Belgian vegetable was $4 a pound (remember: gas was 90 cents a gallon then). He told the wide-eyed youth there was money to be made by anyone who could grow and market it in the United States.

"That was how I was exposed to it," said Collins, sitting in his second-floor office at the production facility on Poppy House Road, where he and more than three dozen employees grow three varieties of the pricey vegetable in cool, dark rooms year-round.

After some research on how to grow endives, Collins went to the Lagomarsino Seed Co. in Sacramento, bought some chicory seeds, planted them, harvested the carrot-shaped roots, then placed them in his darkened bedroom closet, forcing the endives to grow.

"If he (the restaurant owner) hadn't said anything, I don't know what I'd be doing today," said Collins, whose firm last year shipped some 2,000 tons of endive and had revenues of nearly $7 million.

But after growing endives in his parents' home, he retained the vision of one day growing them and owning his own business, a dream that never faded, even as he worked to earn a bachelor's degree in agricultural and managerial economics from University of California, Davis.

Before graduating in 1983, Collins spent most of 1982 in Europe, either working on or visiting endive farms in Belgium, France, Holland and Spain. "I got my degree at U.C. Davis and my education in Europe," he said. There, he learned from one of the last in a line of notable endive masters, Jean Pauwels.

Returning to California, he began commercial production on 5 acres in Allendale, then relocated to Elmira and eventually, in 1995, built a 30,000 square-foot growing facility in Rio Vista. Along the way, he collaborated with Marc Darbonne, president of S.C. Darbonne, for more than a century a plant producer in Milly-la-Foret, France. In 1987, they incorporated.

The story of endive - What is it? How is it grown? Why is it expensive? Where does it come from? - is complex but Collins makes it easy to understand through a series of explanatory panels and photographs on a wall just off the company's first-floor offices. Vertically stacking the chicory roots (grown in Turlock and southern Oregon), he grows endives hydroponically (without soil), in water enriched with nutrients. At 4 to 6 inches, they are handpicked, trimmed, packed and shipped to mostly American markets but also to a few in Asia.

While it has a reputation - an inaccurate one, said Collins - for being an acquired taste, endives also suffer from a reputation of being an expensive, elitist food. True, it is often served raw or braised at upscale restaurants but its price is justified as it is "labor-intensive (six to seven months from seed to shipping) and capital-intensive to grow," Collins noted.

"It's a two-stage process, with lots and lots of complicated, risky steps to usher it through," he explained. "The maximum that one chicory root will produce is one endive at best. The (growing) process is fraught with risk. Besides, it's a white vegetable. Growing a white vegetable is hard, subsequent to packing ... if there's a blemish on a white vegetable, it shows up right away, as opposed to, say, Romaine lettuce. It's tough to grow."

But just because it is difficult and tricky to grow does not necessarily equate to it being overly expensive, he noted, adding that the price of some appetizer crackers easily runs more than $6 per pound. The price of endives, thus, is "very competitive" pound for pound, he asserted. Besides, he added, endives are known to be nutritious, containing only 15 calories each.

Opening the door to one of four cold, slightly humid, darkened storage areas, Collins, flashlight in hand, cast a light on hundreds of 3-by-4-foot wooden growing trays, each filled with several hundred sprouting roots and stacked to a 20-foot ceiling. It's a sight that makes it easy to imagine how his company packs and ships 400,000 to 500,000 boxes, 10 pounds each, per year.

Collins said his business is among America's most unique. His assessment includes the fact that used chicory roots are not discarded. They and other waste are used as cattle feed.

Still, he noted, the lingering recession forced a cutback in his company's production, as people reconsidered buying nonessential foods and ate less frequently in restaurants. At one point, he offered some employees buyouts. Each refused, choosing to work 30-hour weeks instead.

Collins has noticed a slight uptick in demand for endive, saying new and larger orders are beginning to trickle in.

In his 31st years as a grower, he said more than once he and wife, Shelly, "have quit, but we came back the next day."

Council says yes to Sonic

Council says yes to Sonic
By Melissa Murphy
Posted: 09/23/2009

Sonic Drive-in now has a green light to come to Vacaville.

The City Council unanimously approved the project Tuesday night during its regular meeting.

"We're extremely excited about coming to Vacaville," said Scot Cochran, Sonic representative. "We believe this is a very good market."

The fast-food chain, known for its carhop-style service, will occupy a new building at the corner of Bella Vista Avenue and Davis Street, adjacent to a park-and-ride lot. The existing building was approved in 2007 and completed the following year, but has sat vacant since then.

With the new business, a new driveway will be installed that will line up with the existing traffic lights at the intersection of Davis Street and Hume Way.

Temporarily, because of the business, traffic congestion will increase prior to construction of the city's Davis Street widening project, which is planned to be completed before the end of 2010.

Another part of the project involves Sonic buying a portion of the park-and-ride lot, where there are presently 21 parking spaces.

The area will be re-striped to accommodate 17 wider parking spaces, which would include menu boards at each space.

These spaces would be added to the overall Sonic project site, making the site larger to accommodate the on-site parking requirements.

In return, Sonic will fund the construction of 21 replacement spaces in the adjacent city-owned parcel on Davis Street, which will be added to the city's facility.

Council members also approved the land swap and the sale of the 21 park-and-ride lot stalls and construction of replacement stalls on adjoining city-owned property.

Meanwhile, the city is working closely with Sonic to ensure the safety of students walking from Buckingham Charter School, which is diagonally across the street from the restaurant.

Unfortunately, additional crosswalks to the intersection would impact the level of service for traffic, but according to City Planner Peyman Behvand, they are still considering barricades and signage at the spot to keep pedestrians safe.

"I want to compliment staff on the tremendous job they did to see that this happened," said Vice Mayor Curtis Hunt, who added that sometimes the council is blamed for not being business friendly. "This is exactly the kind of thinking we need."

In other action, the council approved appointing Vacaville resident Mitch Mashburn to serve on the Planning Commission. Mashburn ran for City Council last year but was defeated. He fills the seat that Commissioner Ella Marie Kallios resigned from.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Touro University hopes to start business program this January

Touro University hopes to start business program this January
By Jenna V. Loceff, Business Journal Staff Reporter
September 21st, 2009

Touro University on Mare Island in Vallejo is set to open a business school in January, according to Jesus Mena, the university’s director of external relations.

The school has been accredited and was supposed to open this semester but didn’t due to a lack of enrollment.

But, said Mr. Mena, “We are hopeful and optimistic. We have started an aggressive marketing plan.”

Dr. Krishan Rana, the chairperson and professor in the business and management department, said the school will have all upper division classes so as not to compete with the community colleges.

“We are trying to get the community college graduates and give them the professional training they will need.”

There will be three areas of study. These areas were chosen when Touro officials put together questionnaires and took them to the community colleges. It was determined that there is a high demand for the concentrations.

The degrees are in health care management, global business and strategy management and security and risk management.

Dr. Rana came to Touro a year ago from the California Maritime Academy. He initiated this program.

“It is my baby,” he said. It took a full year to get accreditation and he is excited for the first cohort, which will have a minimum of 20 students.

Touro University offers new program

Touro University offers new program
By Reporter Staff
Posted: 09/21/2009

A recent report from the Public Policy Institute of California predicted that nearly 50 percent of workers will need a bachelor's degree to meet expected economic demands over the next two decades.

To help address this need and provide students with the skills necessary to take advantage of expected employer demand, Touro University in Vallejo is offering a bachelor of science degree in business and management, with concentrations in global business and strategy management, security and risk management or health-care management, beginning January 2010.

This new upper division program is designed for college juniors seeking a baccalaureate or students who have earned an associate's degree or equivalent. Candidates can apply for classes starting in January (spring semester) or May (summer semester). Financial aid is available.

To explain more about this degree, Touro is hosting two information nights from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 15, at Landers Hall on the school's Mare Island campus, 1310 Johnson Lane, Vallejo.

For information or applications, call enrollment management at 888-652-7580, e-mail or visit

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Benicia poised to embark on 'greener' future

Benicia poised to embark on 'greener' future
By Tony Burchyns
Posted: 09/17/2009

BENICIA -- The City Council has unanimously adopted a plan to reduce the city's carbon footprint, but several hurdles remain before it may take effect.

Major components of the plan include boosting wind and solar power production and making homes 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.

City officials say the so-called Benicia Climate Action Plan isn't a quick solution, but rather a road map for gradually lowering the city's greenhouse gas emissions.

First, the council must name members to Benicia's newly created Community Sustainability Commission, which has been charged with managing and guiding the green transition.

The panel will consist of residents, but may not hold its inaugural meeting until October or November. Among its first tasks will be to prioritize the plan's more than 100 goals and strategies for timely implementation.

The members will advise the council and regularly review the plan, make recommendations about it and help decide which programs would become mandatory.

In adopting the document late Tuesday, the council issued instructions to focus on implementing voluntary programs first whenever possible. These include proposed solar-permitting fee waivers, home energy and water audits and energy-efficiency rebates for residents.

Other, more controversial proposals would require such actions as a building audit and efficiency program for Benicia's commercial and industrial sectors. These initiatives likely will take longer to implement.

Other city panels, such as the Planning and Historic Preservation Review commissions, may also be part of the review process.

Drafted over many months with the help of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo faculty members and students, the plan provides "a menu of options" for meeting the greenhouse gas reduction targets that Benicia adopted last year.

The Cal Poly team worked closely with city officials and the public to devise one of the state's first overarching community sustainability plans for a city Benicia's size.

Assistant professor Adrienne Greve of the Cal Poly City and Regional Planning Department personally thanked the council and staff Tuesday for providing the educational opportunity.

"Climate action planning is increasingly important," Greve said. "You have played a role in the future generation of planners."

The document -- more than 100 pages long -- is separated into eight realms, beginning with education and public outreach, energy production and transportation and land use. The other chapters address buildings, industry and commercial, water and wastewater, solid waste and parks and open space.

City officials say the plan is not a bundle of policy mandates, but a possible "road map" to a more sustainable community. Its individual goals are mostly aimed at lowering the city's carbon emissions and grid use during the next 10 years and providing financial tools for change.

Although the plan does not provide easy answers for a greener future, it represents the first overarching approach a Solano County city has taken to climate change.

Jenny Bard, regional air quality director for the American Lung Association, offered her group's support of the initiative and expressed hope that other Solano County cities would follow suit.

The plan addresses Benicia's long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals, which meet or exceed those established by state law for 2020. City officials have vowed to cut carbon emissions for municipal operations by a third below 2000 levels. And the council last September also vowed to reduce greenhouse gases in the rest of the community by 10 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.

Some programs such as solar financing options for businesses and homes, already are under development. The city also is considering generating some of its own power through wind turbines or solar panels to operate large facilities such as the waste water treatment plant. The city is expected to award contracts for some of these renewable-energy projects by November.

As for achieving Benicia's green vision, city leaders say one challenge likely will be encouraging residents and businesses to buy into new ideas without forcing behavior changes.

Council members Mike Ioakimedes and Alan Schwartzman said carrots would be better than sticks. Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson did not object to any proposed energy-savings mandates, but did recommend offering technical assistance to and for local businesses.

Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at (707) 553-6831 or

Firm pushes M.I. dry dock plan

Firm pushes M.I. dry dock plan
By Jessica A. York
Posted: 09/17/2009

Interested community members take a tour Wednesday around the Mare Island dry docks that California Dry Dock Solutions proposes to use in ship dismantling, if the city will approve its plan. A question-and-answer session followed the day's two tours. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

The potential reopening of two Mare Island dry docks drew more than four dozen spectators to a tour of the docks and a community meeting Wednesday.

California Dry Docks Solutions representatives acknowledged concerns about the industrial nature of the company, which plans to secure four federal ship dismantling contracts. Industrial and non-industrial compatibility will be an ongoing issue, officials said; some consider it a positive marriage, and others a negative one.

"This is not a Starbucks, this is heavy marine industry," said company CEO Jay Anast. "It's up to you -- the community -- if you want that in your city."

Anast said diesel machinery, including truck and crane operations, would come with the business. But so would jobs, industry and property taxes, he said.

The company is awaiting test results on soil from Mare Island Strait, in front of the two large moveable dry dock doors. If contamination levels are low enough, the company will be able to dredge up and remove the dirt for ships in the nearby Suisun Bay National Defense Reserve Fleet.

Developer Lennar Mare Island's vice president and general manager, Tom Sheaff, defended the seemingly slow movement in reopening the former shipyard. The company was hired by the city to clean up and develop much of Mare Island, and has fielded many marine and ship-related requests for the former naval docks. The 2000 collapse of the Pegasus shipping company gave them pause, though, Sheaff said.

If California Dry Docks Solutions acquires planned ship dismantling contracts, the government maintains ownership and liability for the ships during breakdown, Anast said.

While many applauded the reported 12 years the company has put into coming to Mare Island and its plans to hire locals first, others questioned the financial stability of its plan.

Sheaff said the company's stay on Mare Island would last as long as it is financially viable. If the company does not continue to expand and/or garner future contracts, Lennar Mare Island and eventually Vallejo will have saved money in upkeep, liability and other issues for the length of California Dry Docks Solutions' lease, he said.

Members of the Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square accused Lennar officials of changing their vision for the dry dock area, unhappy at the potential loss of a site to moor the USS Iowa as a museum.

Contact staff writer Jessica A. York at (707) 553-6834 or

Suisun district gets new fire engine

Suisun district gets new fire engine
Daily Republic staff  | September 16, 2009

FAIRFIELD - The Suisun Fire Protection District is getting a new fire engine today thanks to money from a Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This will allow the fire protection district to retire its 1986 engine that was becoming unreliable.

The new engine, which cost $307,000, was partially paid for with a $275,000 grant from FEMA, according to Suisun Fire District Engineer Chris Aragon.

See the complete story at the Daily Republic online.

SCC expands with Vaca campus

SCC expands with Vaca campus
A class of its own
By Ryan Chalk
Posted: 09/17/2009

The Solano Community College Vacaville Center is beginning to take form as crews work to close the steel skeleton of the two-story, 40,000-square-foot building before winter rain falls. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

For years, Solano Community College has been building for the future, and it is becoming evident in north Vacaville, where the community college district is making progress on the latest jewel in its educational crown.

Located on North Village Parkway, the new Vacaville Center will be a multi-story, 40,000-square-foot facility that will allow the college to greatly expand its course offerings and services to the residents of Vacaville, Dixon and Winters, as well as all of Solano County. Located on a 60-acre site, the new facility will include science laboratories, library services, a computer laboratory, bookstore distribution space and outdoor spaces for study and relaxation.

It was nothing more than a dirt field in June of last year when school officials, community members and architects gathered to ceremoniously turn the first spades of earth.

Today, construction crews are working diligently on Phase I, and passing motorists can easily see the large steel skeleton of what will become Building Three. A closer look reveals the outline of a parking lot and landscaping.

Paving is set to start in a couple of weeks and Sheetrock is beginning to go up, according to Dave Froehlich, director of facilities for the college.

The two-story building is scheduled for completion by early spring and will also feature a lecture hall and multipurpose room, meeting space and offices for health and financial aid.

"It's got a little bit of everything in it," Froehlich said.

The entire cost of the current phase is about $25 million, which includes all of the furnishings and technology that will make it move-in ready. The project is funded through Measure G bond funds which Solano County voters passed in 2002 totaling $124.5 million.

"Things are really coming together nicely and of course it's all for our students," Froehlich said.

Solano Community College District Governing Board member Sarah Chapman said that positive reports have been coming in as to the progress of the facility and community members she has spoken to have expressed excitement in having a site located in the northern portion of the county.

"We're just very happy with the way the facility is progressing," said Chapman, who represents Vacaville, Dixon and Winters. "I'm very enthusiastic with the future of Solano Community College overall. There's a lot of positive things going on."

An architect's rendering of Phase I at Solano Community College's Vacaville campus scheduled to open this spring. (Ryan Chalk / The Reporter)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Vallejo Symphony launches its 78th season

The Vallejo Symphony launches its 78th season

By Reporter Staff

Beethoven, Daugherty, Mozart and Sibelius figure largely in the Vallejo Symphony's 78th season, which begins at 8 p.m. Saturday in Hogan High Auditorium, 850 Rosewood, Vallejo. The four-concert program kicks off with Handel's "Music for Royal Fireworks," Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring guest Wonny Song, winner of the 2005 Young Concert Artists auditions, on keyboard. Conductor David Ramadanoff - who has led the orchestra, one of the oldest civic ensembles in California, for more than 25 years - will close out the season-opener with Brahms' Symphony No. 1, sometimes call "Beethoven's 10th" for its sonic debt to the Romantic composer.
For tickets, $15 to $40, call 643-4441 or visit Season tickets, from $110 to $120, are also available.
The season continues Jan. 9 with works by Mozart, Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 and Michael Daugherty's "Dead Elvis."
The third concert will be March 27, featuring Mozart's Overture to "Don Giovanni," conducted by Pamela Martin, Ramadanoff's wife, Strauss' Concerto for Horn, featuring Meredith Brown and Mozart's Symphony No. 39.
Dvorak's "Carnival Overture" opens the fourth and final concert of the season on May 1. Violinist Dawn Harms will be featured on Kernis' Air for Violin and Orchestra. Ramadanoff will also lead the 65-member orchestra in Sibelius' Symphony No. 2.

Santa Rosa rejects Lowe’s, Vallejo OK's one

Construction: Santa Rosa rejects Lowe’s, Vallejo OKs one;
Posted By Jeff Quackenbush, Business Journal Staff Reporter On September 14, 2009 @ 2:15 am In Construction, Industry News | No Comments
The Santa Rosa City Council voted 5-2 against a proposed Lowe’s Home Improvement store at an industrial site on Yolanda Avenue amid questions about the environmental impact of the project and the potential to hurt local business. At the Sept. 1 council hearing, several leaders of major businesses in the city advocated opposition to the proposal.

Meanwhile, on July 21 the Vallejo Planning Division approved a proposed Lowe’s store on the site of a former Mazda and Hyundai dealership in the auto row near Interstate 80. Lowe’s switched plans from building a store in the Napa Junction development in neighboring American Canyon in 2006.
No comments were submitted in the 60-day period, according to Vallejo senior economic development analyst Annette Taylor.

An environmental-impact report had been conducted for the area previously, so only a mitigated negative declaration of environmental impacts was required and zoning was consistent with the use, so the planning division could approve the application.
A deal between the Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer and Vallejo property owner Ken Ross of Team Superstores was pending at press time.

Other retailers are active in Vallejo, despite the city’s being in bankruptcy protection, according to Ms. Taylor.
Automotive parts retailer AutoZone just inked a 15-year ground lease for a little more than a half-acre of land at 3020 Sonoma Blvd. The Memphis-based retailer has been looking to relocate its Vallejo store from 730 Admiral Callaghan Lane to a new prototypical building at this site for a few years, and now the company has applied for building permits for a 7,800-square-foot store. The retailer has eight other North Bay stores. Jon Stansbury of Terranomics represented AutoZone in the lease with owner Joe Khayat.
Also Bed Bath & Beyond is occupying a shuttered Linens n’ Things store in Gateway Plaza.

Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.