Wednesday, December 15, 2010

American Canyon's downtown dream assisted by incorporation of 300 acres

American Canyon's downtown dream assisted by incorporation of 300 acres

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen / Times-Herald

Posted: 12/10/2010 05:08:58 AM PST:

The old Basalt mine property in American Canyon is set to be developed as the city's new downtown after Napa County's Local Agency Formation Commission OK'd its annexation. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

AMERICAN CANYON -- After more than a decade of efforts, this city's vision for a downtown came a step closer to reality this week as the project's proposed site annexation was approved.

The Local Agency Formation Commission, which grants annexation rights, on Monday OK'd American Canyon's request to incorporate some 300 acres of unincorporated Napa County. On it will be built the city's long-awaited Town Center, Mayor Leon Garcia said.

"We've been working on this for a very long time and this is a great accomplishment for American Canyon," Garcia said. "Something like downtown Healdsburg is what's been envisioned -- a mixed use complex with retail, residential, a park... a downtown sense of place for American Canyon."

Part of the residential component will satisfy Napa County's affordable housing obligation, Garcia said.

"This takes the pressure off up-county farmland and vineyards for development," Community Development Director Brent Cooper said. "And there are many benefits to the city."

One such benefit will be the extension of certain streets and bike trails, he said.

Located behind the Napa Junction Apartments on the city's east side, the old basalt cement plant ruins are where developer McGrath Properties is now gearing up to create a downtown for the city, Garcia said.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting where the annexation approval was announced, McGrath spokeswoman Deborah Castles thanked the council and city staff for its hard work thus far.

"We're looking forward to having something wonderful happen on that property," she said.

Though a long process still looms, discussions between city staff and McGrath officials should start soon. In those, details will begin to be ironed out, Garcia and Cooper said.

"The application will likely come to us later on this spring and then there will be a public process to review the plan," Cooper said. "We'll make sure it's consistent with our General Plan and meets the community's goals."

A completion date is still a long way off, both men said.

"I have no idea when it will be complete," Garcia said. "It all depends on what the economy does."

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

Vacaville's Travis Credit Union buys Concord's Metro 1

Vacaville's Travis Credit Union buys Concord's Metro 1

By George Avalos / Contra Costa Times

posted: 12/10/2010 05:09:23 AM PST

Travis Credit Union, a $1.6 billion financial firm, has struck a deal to broaden its footprint in the East Bay by acquiring Concord-based Metro 1 Credit Union, the companies said Thursday.

Vacaville-based Travis said the deal is part of its strategic quest to expand its reach in Northern California and the Central Valley.

"We're excited about this," said Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president of Travis Credit Union. "This is a great strategic partnership. We're very pleased about it."

Metro 1, founded in 1949, has 49 employees and is a far smaller company than the 450-employee Travis. That credit union was founded in 1951 primarily to serve military and civilian employees associated with Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

"This is going to really benefit our members, which is the bottom line,"

said Tina Fields, president of Metro 1. "Our members will have access to many more branches."

Travis has 19 branches, including outlets in Vacaville, Fairfield, Dixon and six other cities.

Metro 1's five branches are in Antioch, Benicia, Concord, Richmond and Oakley.

"Our members will be able to get better rates on their deposits, better rates on loans, and Travis has been able to cut a lot of fees," Fields said.

At the end of September, Travis had $1.42 billion in deposits and $1.6 billion in total assets, according to a regulatory filing. In that same time period, Metro 1, formally known as First Metropolitan Credit Union, had

$169.4 million in deposits and $177.4 million in assets.

Travis Credit Union was identified as the ideal merger partner because it shares our focus on quality member service, offers multiple regional locations to serve our members, and has a long and proven history of financial stability," Fields said.

In addition, Travis is obtaining a Metro 1 firm that has been losing money for some time.

Metro 1 lost $500,000 in its third quarter of 2010, lost $2.3 million in its second quarter and suffered $600,000 in red ink during the first quarter.

For all of 2009, Metro 1 lost $4.6 million, the credit union's regulatory filings show.

"Metro 1 in its marketplace had heavier amounts of real estate problems and they sustained heavier losses than other credit unions," said Diana Dykstra, chief executive officer of the California Credit Union League. "They were really stuck in a bad area and got hit harder than most others."

Earlier this year, Fields confirmed that Metro 1 was looking for a merger partner.

"This was very proactive on the part of Metro 1," Dykstra said. "They knew their capital levels were slipping, and they were having difficulty turning things around. They sought out a merger partner rather than have the regulators come in and shut them down."

Nationwide, the number of credit unions has shriveled steadily over the decades and in recent years.

In the 1970s, the nation had 22,000 credit unions, Dykstra said. In 2005, the number had dropped to 9,200. Today, the number is closer to 7,500.

"When you have a mature industry or marketplace, consolidations are part of the natural scheme of things," she said.

The deal is expected to close by April. The two credit unions will combine their financial statements effective at the end of December.

It's possible that the deal could lead to job cuts. For example, Metro 1 and Travis have branches across the street in Concord on Willow Pass Road. And Metro 1 had laid off 11 employees earlier this year, Fields said.

"Travis has some openings as well. We are encouraging them to apply with Travis." Van Ouwerkerk said. "Our goal is to keep as many of the Metro 1 employees as we can. But we also really need to make sure we are operating efficiently after the merger."

The expansion efforts by Travis could produce more acquisitions.

"Certainly in the future, we are interested in expanding in the Central Valley, in Alameda County and in Solano County," Van Ouwerkerk said.

"Mergers are part of our growth strategy."

Funding for Lynch Canyon environmental studies OK'

Funding for Lynch Canyon environmental studies OK'd

By Tony Burchyns / Times-Herald

Posted: 12/14/2010 01:01:19 AM PST

A 13-acre reservoir north of Vallejo that supports a downstream ecosystem and stores water for cattle grazing is one step closer to being restored, open space and Solano County officials said Monday.

Funding for the Lynch Canyon environmental studies was approved last week, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The project centers on restoring Lynch Creek's north fork, including maintaining the reservoir's aging dam. The reservoir supports 3.5 acres of downstream wetlands considered important habitat for frogs, birds and other animals. The area also is enjoyed by bird watchers and hikers on public access days.

"It's a big deal to us because it allows for planning to improve the wetlands in the area and work on making the dam located at the reservoir more safe," Solano County Parks Services Manager Dan Sykes said.

The wetlands not only provide a home for indigenous species, but also protect downstream water quality by filtering runoff and preventing erosion.

This benefits the water quality of the Lynch Creek watershed, and ultimately Suisun Marsh, San Francisco Bay and downstream coastal areas, officials said.

The $35,477 grant is tied to 2005 legislation that in part provides funding for the six "outer continental shelf" oil and gas producing states to protect coastal areas. California has received $5.9 million for related projects since the start of the year.

The county will receive the money once the studies are completed, Sykes said, probably next summer or fall.

The next step will be to find funding for the actual restoration work.

Finishing the studies will help determine how much that phase will cost, Solano Land Trust Project Coordinator Sue Wickham said.

"This is just the next piece of the puzzle," Wickham said. "The studies will determine the regulatory requirements of the project."

The land trust owns the roughly 1,000-acre Lynch Canyon reserve, partnering with the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council and the county to operate it as a public park.

Wickham said private landowners who own half the reservoir are on board with the project, which may include improving eroded and aging access roads.

"It has to do with having the public at Lynch Canyon," Wickham said. "It took a long time, but we are very happy to get this money."

Contact staff writer Tony Burchyns at tburchyns or

(707) 553-6831.

Dredging of Mare Island Strait needed by ship dismantler nearly complete

Dredging of Mare Island Strait needed by ship dismantler nearly complete

By Jessica A. York / Times-Herald

Posted: 12/14/2010 01:01:59 AM PST

The amount of built-up mud and silt recently pulled from in front of Mare Island's dry docks 2 and 3 could fill Vallejo's Corbus Field up about 112 feet high -- which would top an 11-story building.

The lion's share of dredging work needed to deepen Mare Island Strait in preparation for ship dismantling work has come to an end, leaving only cosmetic digging this week, said Cooper Crane and Rigging founder BK Cooper.

"The job went very well," Cooper said. "We worked around the clock ... there were really no anomalies or problems." He added that more "surgical"

dredging, with divers pulling up as much as 800 cubic yards more of mud, is needed around the dry docks' caisson doors so as not to damage external gate valves.

Cooper Crane and Rigging is located on Mare Island, much like the company in need of dredging work, Allied Defense Recycling. Since Nov. 22, between 140,000-150,000 cubic yards of submerged mud has been hauled by some 75 barges from the area, Cooper said.

"The water-based crane which did 99.9 percent of the work is done," Allied Defense Recycling business operations director Jay Anast said. "We're on schedule."

The company was given an extended period in which to dredge by local regulatory agencies. In order to protect local fish life, dredging is usually mandated to end by November, at the latest. Allied Defense Recycling has until Wednesday.

Anast said the company's next step is to get the former shipyard set up. The first of two obsolete federal Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet vessels, as part of a more than $3 million federal dismantling contract, is due for Mare Island delivery at the end of January.

Divers exploring the area around the dry dock doors are able to get a clear look at the mammoth dry docks' exterior "for the first time in years," Anast said. They have discovered blanks -- pieces of metal -- bolted down around exterior drains that will need to pried off, adding some extra preparation work, Anast said.

The doors and seals are protecting former naval inset docks, which ships can be floated into, then drained for contained ship work.

For more information on Allied Defense Recycling, also doing business as California Dry Dock Solutions, visit or call (707) 648-DOCK (3625).

VACAVILLE - What San Francisco is losing will be Vacaville's gain.

Workers' comp carrier announces Vacaville expansion plans

By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 13, 2010 16:08


e_insurance%20copy.jpgThe State Compensation Insurance Fund office in Vacaville is expected to receive 422 employees being transferred from the fund's San Francisco headquarters. Photo by Brad Zweerink

VACAVILLE - What San Francisco is losing will be Vacaville's gain.

The State Compensation Insurance Fund is sending 422 employees to its Vacaville facility in September 2011 as part of a reorganization to save money, reduce its real estate footprint and make it a more efficient insurer.

The Fund was established in 1914 and is the state's largest provider of workers' compensation insurance. It has always had its headquarters in San Francisco.

It is moving 755 jobs out of San Francisco with Vacaville getting the lion's share, while Pleasanton will get 293 jobs and Sacramento will get 40. The San Francisco location will keep 75 workers.

'In recent years, we have made strides in improving services, enhancing our customer focus, and making it easier to do business with us. Now we are taking several steps to achieve our goal of greater efficiency and long term operational stability,' State Fund President and CEO Tom Rowe said in a statement.

This news has pleased Vacaville leaders who said it is not much of a surprise.

'We are delighted. It is very good news for Vacaville and the county,' said Vacaville Economic Development Director Mike Palumbo.

Vacaville enticed the Fund to build a campus in Vacaville four years ago and it has built three of the five buildings it planned for the 32-acre campus located next to Genentech.

One of Vacaville's objectives in getting the Fund here was to establish Vacaville as a suitable location for these type of back-office jobs, Palumbo said.

'The more jobs we have, even if these people are not all local people, it helps the economy,' Palumbo said. 'In a sea of not very good news, this is good news.'

The Vacaville facility, which presently has 573 employees, will see 120 of its workers moved to Pleasanton early next summer, before the San Francisco workers come here.

Vacaville became the recipient for so many of the Fund's San Francisco employees 'because our salaries are much more in line with the cost of living in Vacaville than San Francisco,' according to Fund Communications Director Jennifer Vargan.

Once the moves are done, the Vacaville campus' three buildings will be full.

There are no plans for further expansion at this time, according to Vargan.

Just how many of these employees will commute to Vacaville or move to Vacaville is unknown. There is also the question of whether some of the jobs will be local hires.

Our employees are reviewing their options,' Vargan said.

During the next three years, the Fund will also consolidate its regional Claims and Underwriting offices into central locations in Eureka, Redding, Sacramento, Stockton, Pleasanton, Fresno, Bakersfield, Monterey Park, Riverside and Santa Ana.

'We're pleased for Solano County,' said Solano County Economic Development Corporation President Michael Ammann.

'This is not just moving to a lower-cost area. They have had a good experience in Vacaville,' Ammann said.

Ammann said he can also see this as an opportunity to talk to other firms in the back-office insurance business, showing them what prompted the Fund to move here.

'This gives us a run to go talk to similar folks,' Ammann said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Parker Road a 'hidden' gem in Fairfield

Parker Road a 'hidden' gem in Fairfield

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | | December 10, 2010 19:27

Periodically, we visit the nooks and crannies of Fairfield in search of the unique and innovative. Many readers have probably never had reason to visit some of Fairfield's 'hidden' industrial and commercial areas.

This week, we are visiting a commercial area tucked away in the far northeastern corner of the city: Parker Road. Unless one is associated with Travis Air Force Base (admittedly a large population), many Fairfield residents have probably never visited Parker Road, which is a short, dead-end commercial street immediately west of the main gate on Air Base Parkway. Yet Parker Road is full of interesting restaurants, shops and services which attract far more than just Air Force personnel and contractors.

The first thing one notices when visiting Parker Road is that this corridor contains a mix of buildings representing decades of development. Travis Shopping Center, with its jaunty arrow sign, dates from the 1960s. Some of the older buildings may be a little tired or shabby-looking, but they are an interesting collection of structures that provide affordable space to newer and smaller business.

There has been some new investment as well. The building housing Subway and Fire Wok was completed in 2004. Other buildings were completed during the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, contributing to the diversity in the corridor.

Parker Road's main role continues to be serving the Travis community. There are a broad range of services, including a self-storage facility, car and truck rental, auto parts, auto repair, towing, dry cleaners and several barber shops. Interestingly enough, there are three small taverns tucked away in corners of the older shopping centers. There is even an Elks Lodge.

The corridor's commercial zoning allows for this variety of land uses and businesses.

Tenants aren't limited to commercial users. The Word of Faith Christian Center occupies a former supermarket. In addition to the church, it operates a campus of the We 'R' Family Christian Academy for fourth, fifth and sixth grades. At the very end of Parker Road is the Air National Guard facility for Solano County.

Parker Road serves a large population from the base -- and beyond -- many of whom have served overseas where they developed a taste for exotic cuisines.

The corridor offers several taquerias, a Korean barbecue, an Asian market, Southern barbecue and fish, and Ohkura Sushi, a long-time favorite of the area.

We spoke briefly with John Liu, owner of Fire Wok Restaurant at 628 Parker Road. Fire Wok serves carefully prepared Chinese cuisine with an emphasis on healthy vegetables and fresh meat. Fire Wok features an open kitchen, so diners can watch as the chefs prepare their food. And Fire Wok offers the always-popular Mongolian barbecue, where you can put together your meal to suit your own tastes.

Liu noted that about 85 percent of his business is Travis Air Force Base personnel, with the biggest crowds appearing during weekday lunch hours.

When asked what could be done to make Parker Road more successful, particularly in becoming more visible to the broader community beyond Travis, Liu said that 'public investment and improvements, like those completed downtown, might attract new customers.' He wants people to recognize that Parker Road offers a broad range of restaurants and services that will be appealing to the broader community beyond Travis.

One interesting fact is that while Travis has been a developed commercial area since the 1940s, one 4-acre parcel remains vacant. With the existing commercial zoning, this parcel could support a variety of commercial, office and institutional uses.

Hopefully, this column will help get the word out about Parker Road.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at or

Rio Vistan takes over sprint car series, moves office to Solano County

By Susan Winlow | Daily Republic | December 13, 2010 18:49


Cars%20copy.jpgDan Simpson, right, recently acquired the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car series and has relocated it to Rio Vista. Photo by Mike Greener

RIO VISTA - Deep in the Montezuma Hills -- surrounded by Percheron horses and wind turbines -- is a dirt race car track on a ranch owned by Dan Simpson.

It was originally built so Simpson, 67, and his daughter Danielle Simpson, 28, could get in some practice, first for the 360 sprint cars they raced a few years ago and then the more powerful 410s in the 25-year-old Golden State Challenge Sprint Car series. Danielle Simpson jumped into that series last year as a rookie -- knowing nothing, she said -- after having been out of racing for a few years.

'Not a clue,' she said, laughing. 'Fortunately Dad built the (practice) track . . . the first year (of the 410s) was a whole bunch of hard learning experiences.'

Father and daughter often competed side-by side at the various oval tracks affiliated with that series, which average a quarter-mile around.

'When you're 28 and come along as a rookie you're at a disadvantage,' Dan Simpson, 67, said of the sport where racers usually start as youngsters. 'I was a rookie at 62.

But this year it all has an entirely new meaning now that Dan Simpson has acquired the series with the goal of getting it back on its feet.

The head office moved to downtown Rio Vista recently and the series was renamed Golden State King of the West Sprint Car series.

Those who know Dan Simpson well aren't too surprised at any of his endeavors, which include the award-winning Simpson Percherons; manufacturer DES, Inc.; and a downtown Rio Vista gym. He also plans to open a Go Kart facility in the spring.

Simpson could easily be described as a man with no 'off' button. Despite owning the series, he'll still be competing in it, alongside his daughter.

'Somebody had to (take it over) or it was going to be either, we wouldn't have it or it would've crept along,' Danielle Simpson said. 'It's a humongous undertaking but I think it's cool he's doing it.'

Simpson pit crew member Roy Van Connett has been around sprint cars his entire life. His father, Leroy Van Connett, is an eight-time Northern Auto Racing Club sprint car champion.

'They just kind of let it go without promoting it,' Roy Van Connett said of the series.

He said that if you didn't know the schedule and weren't in the 'clique,'

you wouldn't know a race was coming to town.

'Dan wants to advertise . . . let (people) know that (it's) coming to town,'

he said. 'That's something this series has never had.'

Along with acquiring the series, several other changes are afoot. There are some venue changes -- the series will race in California, Oregon and Washington, with the closest tracks being in Antioch, Calistoga, Placerville and Marysville. There will be 27 points races -- working with an overall point fund of $100,000 -- during the season slated to start in late March or early April.

In addition to advertising and prerace track parties, Dan Simpson is also marketing a reality TV show about the sprint car series designed to promote the sport and the drivers. He said he'd like to bring in some big names such as NASCAR standouts Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, who each got their start in dirt track racing.

'(Stewart) and Kasey have been fabulous for this sport,' Dan Simpson said.

'They give back a lot. I'm hoping to get several of them back to race one race with us.'

Simpson has made a commitment to carry the series for the next two to three years, he said. He's in the process of developing a staff, which could number up to eight in the coming months.

'You can't expect a series to come back overnight,' he said. 'I'd really like to see it re-establish itself and have some of these kids from quarter midgets have somewhere to go.'

Father and daughter will also continue to battle it out on the race track.

For more information, go to or

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Solano: Getting to Green!

Energy Efficiency Innovation & Growing Local “Green” Markets Take Center Stage at December Solano EDC Meeting

Contact: Michael Ammann
Sandy Person 707 864-1855

Innovations in energy efficiency and business development will be featured at the Dec. 8 Solano Economic Development Corporation’s breakfast event in Fairfield.

Michael Ammann, president of Solano EDC, said it is appropriate that these two forward-looking topics be spotlighted for the final monthly breakfast event for the year 2010.

“The Solano County’s Energy Cluster report prepared by Collaborative Economic in November 2009 called out the opportunities for Solano County to capture regional innovation, building local markets, and preparing residents for growing jobs and careers in the energy cluster,” Ammann said. “The Work Force Investment Board (WIB), Solano Community College and the Trade Unions have been building the labor force through “green collar” training programs. It’s now time to align the business community to take advantage of energy efficiency innovations and building local market solutions for Solano”, said Ammann.

Nicole Woolsey Biggart, director of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center will discuss accelerating development and commercialization of energy efficiency technologies while training future leaders in energy efficiency deployment and research in Northern California.

Charles Rieger, executive director of the Solano Center for Business Innovation (which provides new and diversified services for business startups) will update attendees on the Centers launch the Solano Green Business Council which pulls the business community together to build the “Green Marketplace “ which includes projects such as audits and energy efficiency retrofits for residential and the “greening” of commercial and public buildings. Another activity will be the promotion of “green business practices and getting businesses to voluntarily sign up for the comprehensive Green Business Certification Program managed by Solano County.

The breakfast meeting begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield. Cost is $25 for EDC members and $35 for non-members. Reservations may be made by calling 707.864.1855. Pacific Gas & Electric Company was the underwriter for the Solano County’s Energy Cluster and the major event sponsor for this meeting along with Sutter Health.

The annual monthly series of breakfast membership networking meetings is made possible by the Solano EDC Chairman Circle Members which include Solano Transportation Authority; Syar Industries; Solano Garbage Company and Republic Services, Inc.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Proposed Wal-Mart Center Clears Legal Hurdles i nSuisun City

Proposed Wal-Mart Center Clears Legal Hurdles
Regulatory permits required prior to construction start

SUISUN CITY — More than two years after unanimous City Council approval, the Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for Walters Road and Highway 12 has cleared all legal challenges.

In August, the state Courts of Appeals upheld a Solano County Superior Court ruling that Suisun City followed all state laws and procedures in reviewing and approving the proposed store, related gas station and restaurant site.

Developing this site, which was designated for commercial development for decades, to capture sales taxes currently leaving the city is essential to continuing to provide key public services to Suisun City residents.

Before construction can begin, several key regulatory permits must be secured from various state and federal agencies.

In October, the state Regional Water Quality Control Board granted its permission for the project pending approval of a mitigation plan, prior to construction, to compensate for enclosing a portion of a drainage facility running across the site.

In working with the regional water board staff through 34 site plan revisions, Wal-Mart officials agreed to give up the gas station it had proposed and to slightly shrink the size of the store.

With regional water board consent in hand, Wal-Mart can secure other outstanding permits and submit construction drawings for City review.

Barring further challenges, construction could begin as early as summer 2011.

>> Additional project information >>

Salvation Army Reveals Community Center Vision

Salvation Army Reveals Community Center Vision

$12 million center opening targetted for Fall 2011

Salvation Army PhotosSUISUN CITY — The old community center near Hall Park will be reborn in 2011 as an inspirational center for total wellness in the heart of Suisun City.

The Salvation Army’s goal is simply to redefine the term ‘community center’ with a facility unlike any other in the region to provide a place where lives will be transformed in body, mind and soul.

The City Council sold the facility next to Hall Park on East Wigeon at Pintail Drive in December 2009. Renovations began shortly thereafter, but halted when The Salvation Army committed even more resources to the project resulting in an upgrade to the entire concept.

In October, Salvation Army Capt. Jonathan Harvey revealed to the City Council architectural drawings of the $7.5 million renovation and expansion plans that will bring the Salvation Army’s total to-date commitment in Suisun City to $12 million.

In addition to entirely repurposing 37,000 sq. ft. of existing building space, The Salvation Army plans to add 9,600 sq. ft. of new space, principally in an aerobics studio and tribute corridor.

The new Community Center will have many features of centers recently opened in Oregon and Idaho.

The building itself will feature:

  • A multi-court gymnasium
  • Refurbished aquatics center
  • Dedicated aerobics/dance studio
  • Dedicated spinning studio
  • Fitness center, featuring full range of fitness equipment and personal training
  • Child care center with outdoor tot lot
  • Separate party room
  • Lobby featuring climbing wall, lounge and cafĂ©
  • Remodeled changing rooms, and new family cabanas
  • Conference and community space of nearly 3,000 sq ft off a pre-function lobby
  • Full commercial kitchen

The Community Center is designed to support a wide range of programming, such as

  • Family fitness
  • Rock Wall
  • Martial Arts
  • Dance
  • Personal Training\Yoga
  • Circuit Training
  • Spin Classes
  • Teen Fitness
  • Open Gym
  • Basketball
  • Sports leagues
  • Volleyball
  • Recreational swimming
  • Water aerobics
  • Senior Swim
  • Lifeguard training
  • Professional certifications
  • Swim lessons
  • Afterschool activities
  • Family worship
  • Family enrichment
  • Bible study
  • Women’s outreach
  • Music classes

From the start, City leaders and The Salvation Army shared a commitment to provide the community with the very best center possible and do it right, even if it took a little more time.

The Salvation Army has launched both a website and Facebook page to facilitate communication, including collecting input from the community on the types of programs residents would like most.

For more information, go to or, or call 707-439-7880.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

After 30 years Solano County has new roadway

Solano County has new roadway
Posted: 10/28/2010 01:06:10 AM PDT

The first major infrastructure project in Solano County is completed and will be available to drivers soon.
Intended to divert intracounty traffic off of Interstate 80, the North Connector was created and completed.

State government officials joined with local government leaders and the Solano Transportation Authority on Wednesday to celebrate its completion.

"If we don't start working together, we will not be able to deliver projects like this," said Supervisor Jim Spering standing on the bridge that crosses over Suisun Creek. "It's an investment in the future."

The new four-mile stretch of road connects Chadbourne Road/Highway 12 to Suisun Valley Road. It's a four-lane road, two in each direction, with a landscaped median separation.

"The greater good will be served by pulling traffic off of I-80," said Fairfield Mayor Harry Price.

The project was a joint effort by several different parties including Solano County, the city of Fairfield and Garaventa Properties.

Total funding from the project was $62 million. Of that, $26 million came from Regional Measure 2 funds from bridge tolls.

"What a good thing that has happened here," said Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano. "Now you can get from here to there. You can't get from there to here over there on I-80."

He added that the new stretch of road is a crucial investment that will pay off year, after year.

State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Solano, agreed.

She explained that it's important


to be ready for when the economy catches up and because of the completed project, Solano County is ready.
She added that there are several benefits, one of which is it will streamline commutes.

Other benefits include providing 1.7 miles of continuous bike paths between Chadbourne Road and Suisun Creek as part of the Solano Bikeway Network and provides roadway and bike access to Solano Community College, businesses and residences.

It also provides a new wetlands habitat and storm water detention basin to control localized flooding. The road, according to officials, will provide a frontage road along I-80 that will particularly benefit emergency vehicles when there is a problem on the freeway.

Price shared with the group in keeping with the Halloween season that there actually are bats living and thriving underneath the new Suisun Creek bridge.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The City of Fairfield recently closed escrow on 11.05 acres with Lowe's

The City of Fairfield recently closed escrow on 11.05 acres with Lowe's for a planned store opening in 2011. This activity and the opening of the Walmart Supercenter has spurred interest in other City-owned parcels...see below. Contact us if you have interest in these properties.
Lowe's - Fairfield, CA
• + 11.05 acres
• High traffic location
• Pylon signage available
• Highly visible from I-80
• Owner: City of Fairfield
• Zoning: (CR) Regional Commercial

Saturday, October 23, 2010

City of Fairfield celebrating transportation accomplishment & new auto store opening

Celebrating transportation accomplishments, new store opening

By Sean Quinn | | October 22, 2010 19:41

Since 1998, the Solano Transportation Authority has recognized individuals,
programs, activities, and projects that have contributed to improving the
quality of life in Solano County by delivering transportation projects that
ensure mobility, travel safety, and economic vitality.

Our Public Works Department has submitted nominations to the STA in a number
of categories. In reading the completed nomination forms, I had a chance to
reflect on all the work that has been accomplished this past year. Let's
celebrate their accomplishments:

The team responsible for delivering all of the city's capital improvement
projects consists of three engineers and three inspectors. In 2010, this
team will advertise and award nine transportation projects valued at an
estimated $5.9 million and will complete nine additional transportation
projects worth a total of $54.6 million. These projects range in size, with
the largest estimated at $26 million and the smallest valued at $145,000.

Transportation projects represent only a portion of the city's total capital
improvement program, which also includes capital projects for water, sewer,
drainage, parks, and public buildings. The ability to complete this volume
of projects is particularly noteworthy given that Fairfield, on average, has
historically completed 10 projects per year with an average annual total
value of $8 million.

Transportation projects that have recently been completed or are nearing
completion are the North Texas Street/Interstate 80 interchange, North
Connector, and McGary Road projects. These three projects will greatly
enhance our quality of life and set the foundation for a vibrant local

The North Connector and McGary Road projects are vital links that now make
it possible for bicyclists to connect to Vallejo and the rest of the Bay
Area. For automobiles, these two projects are especially important as they
provide alternative routes to I-80. Of note, McGary Road is part of the Bay
Area Ridge Trail network and links hiking trails in Solano County to trails
throughout the Bay Area and provides better access for Fairfield residents
to Lynch Canyon.

The North Texas Street/I-80 Interchange Project, which I have written about
in past columns, is a source of economic vitality in our community. In
addition to the future Lowe's, with the interchange and related roadwork
completed, the city is generating considerable interest in development
opportunities in the area. Stay tuned for future announcements.

Projects under construction that will have a lasting impact on our community
include the Red Top Road Park and Ride Lot and Auto Mall Parkway
Reconstruction and Widening projects.

The Red Top Road Park and Ride Lot project consists of the construction of a
220-space surface parking lot across from Sunnyside Dairy for residents to
connect to regional mass transit and ride sharing opportunities. The park
and ride lot will also help facilitate the first phase of the
I-80/Interstate 680 improvements.

The Auto Mall Parkway Reconstruction and Widening project consists of
improving an old county road, which is a key segment of Auto Mall Parkway.
The auto mall is a key economic engine in our community and has consistently
generated a significant amount of the city's sales taxes.

Regardless of the outcome of the STA annual awards, I want to draw attention
to the success of our Public Works Department.

Finally, on the economic front, if you haven't visited North Texas Street
lately, you will be surprised to see that our newest addition, Wal-Mart, is
nearing completion. The 200,000-square-foot store, which is located at the
corner of North Texas Street and Atlantic Avenue, is anticipated to open
this fall.

City leaders hope the new store will have a positive impact on the
surrounding area by generating traffic and reinvestment. In addition, later
this year and early next year, Wal-Mart will be sponsoring two small
business seminars that will be coordinated by the Small Business Development
Center on what it takes to compete with large retailers.

Sean Quinn is city manager of Fairfield.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

7 Competitive Ready MPEG 4 Mike Ammann Comments on new Economic Development Service

UC Davis launches world’s 'greenest' winery, brewery and foods facility

UC Davis launches world’s 'greenest' winery, brewery and foods facility

October 5, 2010

Students work on the fall crush in the new winery, brewery and food-processing complex. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)

The two wings of the new complex house facilities for four food and beverage centers (click to view the full floor plan).
A newly completed winery, brewery and food-processing complex at the University of California, Davis, is set to begin operations as the most environmentally sophisticated complex of its kind in the world, one that promises to unravel scientific enigmas and solve practical problems related to foods, beverages and health.

The $20 million, 34,000-square-foot teaching-and-research complex is expected to be the first winery, brewery or food-processing facility to earn LEED Platinum certification, the highest environmental rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) It is intended to become self-sustainable in energy and water use after all of its features come on line.

“This new complex showcases UC Davis’ commitment to environmental excellence,” said Chancellor Linda Katehi. “It embodies our vision to serve as a catalyst for sustainable economic development and social progress in California and beyond.”

Neal Van Alfen, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, added, “The new facility raises the bar for environmental design and construction of laboratory and processing buildings within the University of California.

“It also will serve as a model for industries throughout the nation that are also committed both to environmental excellence and production efficiency,” he said.

The south wing of the new one-story complex is home to the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory, which includes, a brewery, general foods-processing plant and milk-processing laboratory. The complex’s north wing houses a new teaching-and-research winery. Construction was completed in July, and wine grape crush and brewing have begun at the complex, with some equipment yet to be purchased or moved in.

The complex was designed and built to be UC Davis’ second LEED Platinum building and only the third in the University of California system. The other two are UC Davis’ Tahoe Center for the Environmental Sciences in Incline Village, Nev., and UC Santa Barbara’s Bren Hall.

The new complex was funded entirely by private donations; no state or federal funds were used in its design or construction.

It was designed by a team of architects, engineers and builders including BNB Norcal of San Mateo, Flad Architects of San Francisco, F.M. Booth Mechanical, Red Top Electric, KPW Structural Engineers, Creegan + D’Angelo Civil Engineers and HLA Landscape Architects.

The complex is adjacent to a new 12-acre teaching-and-research vineyard and is located within the campus’s Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

The institute, which opened in 2008, comprises three academic buildings that house the Department of Food Science and Technology and the Department of Viticulture and Enology. (Design and construction of those academic buildings, which total 129,600 square feet, cost $73 million, paid for by a combination of state and private funds. The campus did not apply for LEED certification on the three academic buildings.)

LEED Platinum environmental design

The new winery, brewery and food-processing complex was designed to serve as a test bed for production processes and techniques that conserve water, energy and other vital resources.

Its environmentally friendly features include onsite solar power generation and a large-capacity system for capturing rainwater and conserving processing water. The stored rainwater will be used for landscaping and toilets, per LEED specifications.

UC Davis is raising funds to complete an auxiliary building to house equipment that will make it possible to capture, store and recycle rainwater, which will be used in an automated system to clean barrels, tanks and fermentors. The proposed system would reuse 90 percent of the captured rainwater volume.

“We want to demonstrate a self-sufficiency model that is applicable to any business with limited water,” said Roger Boulton, a winery-engineering expert and the Stephen Sinclair Scott Endowed Chair in Enology at UC Davis. He noted that plans call for eventually operating the facility independent of the main campus water line.

Additionally, the winery has been designed to capture carbon dioxide, a natural byproduct of fermentation, from a port in each of the new fermentors. An innovative process will be used to remove the carbon dioxide from the winery, reducing the building’s energy requirements for air quality and temperature control. Plans call for eventually capturing and storing the carbon dioxide produced by the winery, so that it will not contribute to global warming.

“The goal is for the facility to be not just carbon neutral, but carbon zero, in terms of its carbon emissions,” Boulton said.

Other environmentally responsible features include maximum use of natural light, rooftop photovoltaic cells to provide all of the facility’s power at peak load, new food-processing equipment that minimizes energy and water requirements, use of recycled glass in the flooring, interior paneling recycled from a 1928 wooden aqueduct, and use of lumber harvested from sustainably certified forest operations.

High-tech processing systems

A technological capstone for the facility will be the world’s first wireless wine-fermentation system, a $1 million assembly of 152 wireless grape fermentors, designed, fabricated and donated by a team of research engineers led by T.J. Rodgers, founder, president and chief executive officer of San Jose, Calif.-based Cypress Semiconductor.

Each of the 200-liter, electro-polished, stainless steel fermentors is individually equipped for automated control of temperature and the “pump-over” process, controlling two of the most important factors in determining final wine characteristics and quality.

Additionally, newly designed fermentor sensors frequently and precisely extract and transmit sugar-concentration data from white and red fermentations across a wireless network. Data from the sensors can be generated every 15 minutes with a precision of 0.25 Brix, a measure of sugar content.

When completed, the winery is expected to contain one of the largest wireless networks in any fermentation facility in the world.

Meanwhile, the new brewery will provide a showcase for the latest in brewing technology, as well as a sophisticated laboratory for conducting research and training students in the science of brewing. It also is intended to provide commercial brewers and suppliers with a small-scale facility in which they can test new recipes or processes.

Good enough to eat

The general foods- and milk-processing laboratories have been designed and built to meet state and federal food- and dairy-grade standards, meaning that the products processed there are fit for human consumption during sensory and nutritional evaluations.

The food-processing pilot plant will facilitate research on a variety of topics including alternative food-processing methods and their nutritional effects; nutritional quality and shelf life of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables; nutritional enhancements from food-processing “waste” products; and improved food formulations.

The milk-processing laboratory will support research in a variety of areas including separation of milk components into functional ingredients, processing of milk that has been modified by the type of feed provided to the cows, and processing of milk from cows that were bred for specific characteristics.

Individual donors make vision a reality

Dozens of private donors contributed funds to make the new complex a reality, beginning with a $5 million contribution in 2001 from the late winemaker, Robert Mondavi, followed in 2002 by a $5 million pledge by the Anheuser-Busch Foundation.

Other major donations were made by Ronald and Diane Miller and by a group of winery partners led by Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke of Kendall-Jackson Wines, and Jerry Lohr of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. That group of winery partners secured the funds necessary to design and construct the facility to LEED Platinum standards.

California tomato processors and growers also came together to contribute more than $2.5 million to the food-processing pilot plant, recognizing the important role that the Department of Food Science and Technology has played in the industry and the future potential for training students and conducting research at the new complex. The Woodland, Calif.-based Morning Star Packing Company provided a lead gift of $1 million for the food-processing plant.

In all, more than 150 individuals, alumni, corporations and foundations contributed funds to make the new winery, brewery and food-processing complex a reality. These included major contributions from the Department of Viticulture and Enology’s Board of Visitors and Fellows.

About the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology

Established in 1880 by California legislative mandate, the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology has been at the forefront of international grape and wine innovation for 130 years. The department partners with the California grape and wine industry through research, public service and equipping students with both scientific knowledge and practical skills.

The department includes 14 faculty members and enrolls 100 undergraduate students and 40 graduate students.

More information about the department and the new winery is available online at

About the Department of Food Science and Technology

The Department of Food Science and Technology represents one of the oldest disciplines at UC Davis, evolving from studies in winemaking and dairy food production at UC Berkeley in the early 1900s. The current department is home to 200 undergraduate students and approximately 50 graduate students. The majority of the graduates from this program are now working in the food industry or related industries in California and elsewhere.

The department has 25 faculty members who are involved in international collaborations in 20 nations throughout the world. Its historical strengths are in engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, microbiology, food safety, and sensory and consumer sciences.

It is developing new areas of specialty focused on foods for health; food and culture; the relationship between food-borne diseases and the environment; and the processing of food products at the microscopic level, using techniques known as microencapsulation and nanoencapsulation.

About UC Davis

For more than 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 32,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $600 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. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Media contact(s):

Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

SMUD to boost capacity at Solano wind farm

Friday, September 10, 2010
SMUD to boost capacity at Solano wind farm
Sacramento Business Journal - by Melanie Turner Staff writer

Sacramento Municipal Utility District is a step closer to more than doubling the capacity of its wind farm in Solano County, northwest of the Sacramento River, at a cost of more than $200 million.

The SMUD board of directors voted unanimously Sept. 1 to select Vestas-American Wind Technology Inc. of Portland, Ore., to build phase 3 of the Solano wind project. Set to be operational by late 2011, phase 3 will add 128 megawatts and boost the wind farm’s production capacity to 230 megawatts, enough to power about 78,000 homes.

The board authorized John DiStasio, SMUD’s general manager and chief executive officer, to finalize and execute two contracts with Vestas-American, a subsidiary of Vestas Wind Systems A/S of Denmark, to develop and operate phase 3.

The contract for engineering, procurement and construction is valued at $203 million. A second contract for operations and maintenance over a period of 15 years is not to exceed $67 million.

Construction is set to begin in May, and the project is expected to generate 75 jobs, SMUD spokeswoman Dace Udris said.

The project will add 55 wind turbines to the site. It includes a dozen 3-megawatt turbines, which work best in high winds, and 31 1.8-megawatt turbines, which work better in lower wind conditions, Udris said.

SMUD installed 23 wind turbines in 2003 and 2004, and added 29 larger turbines from May 2006 to December 2007. The project currently produces up to 102 megawatts.

All the wind turbines at the site are Vestas machines. They range in size from 660 kilowatts to 3 megawatts. Each 3-megawatt turbine can produce enough energy for more than 1,000 homes each year.

California’s three investor-owned utilities face a Dec. 31 deadline to obtain 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. And California wants to raise its renewable power requirements to 33 percent by 2020.

While the publicly owned SMUD is not under the state mandate, it is expected to be the only large electric utility in the state to meet the 2010 renewable energy goal this year.

The Solano wind farm will help SMUD reach its goal. SMUD is aiming to meet 23 percent of its retail electricity sales with renewable energy by 2011, and 33 percent from renewable sources by 2020.

Once phase 3 of the wind farm is completed, about a third of the renewable energy that goes to SMUD’s customers will come from wind energy, Udris said.

The SMUD project is one of many wind energy projects under way nationwide, though wind power sunk back to 2007 levels for the first half of 2010.

In 2009, the industry installed about $20 billion worth of new wind energy projects. This year the value of installed projects is expected to be half that, said John Dunlop, senior outreach and technical programs manager with the American Wind Energy Association.

The United States remains the world leader for total installed capacity for wind energy.

Nationwide, the average project size in 2009 was 75 megawatts, according to the association. The largest installed project in the country is a 782-megawatt project in Texas, according to the association. | 916-558-7859

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

UC Davis graduate programs rank among the best of the nation

National survey of Ph.D. programs released

September 28, 2010

A half-dozen UC Davis graduate programs rank among the best of the nation in a comprehensive survey of doctorate programs released today (Sept. 28) by the National Research Council. It is the first survey of its kind since 1995.

Among the best UC Davis performers were the graduate programs in Spanish, entomology, agricultural and resource economics, plant biology, ecology, and nutritional biology, all of which fell in the top 5 percent among similar programs nationally on at least one of two overall measures. About one-third of the UC Davis programs fell in the top 25 percent in their respective fields.

"The strong overall performance of so many UC Davis graduate programs reflects the talent and energy of the faculty and the interdisciplinary environment on campus," said Jeffery Gibeling, dean of graduate studies. The results quantitatively validate what we already know about some of our best programs, he added.

"At UC Davis and, I expect, at other Ph.D.-granting universities, we will be carefully working through these data, making comparisons between our programs and those at other institutions, and looking for ways that we can improve," Gibeling said. "It is likely that we will construct our own rankings based on the qualities we believe to be most important."

Gibeling cautioned against making simple head-to-head comparisons of rankings. The NRC describes the rankings as "illustrative" of the ways the data can be used and does not endorse their use to make absolute comparisons. Different UC Davis programs do well in different subcategories, he noted.

Data for the survey were collected in 2006 and reflect the 10 years before that. Changes since 2006, such as changes in curriculum or faculty turnover or growth, are not captured.

While the data in the survey are in some ways dated, it is the most comprehensive and detailed survey of its kind, and can provide useful information for future policy discussions on strengthening graduate education at UC Davis, Gibeling said.

Fifty-one UC Davis programs were included in the survey. Eligible programs had to have graduated at least five Ph.D.s in the five years prior to 2005-06. Programs were slotted into specific subject fields determined in advance by the NRC. In some cases, multiple UC Davis programs fit in the same subject field. One important change since the 1995 NRC assessment is the inclusion of agricultural fields, areas in which UC Davis has longstanding strengths.

The report's methodology is complex. The committee assigned each program a range of ranks on five different scales: two overall scales, "overall-S" and "overall-R," and three subcategories, "research activity," "student support and outcomes," and "diversity of the academic environment."

The results for each measure are expressed as a range of rankings reflecting the variability and uncertainty inherent in such assessments. For example, the UC Davis graduate program in entomology was ranked from 1 to 7 on the overall-S scale, 2 to 10 on overall-R, 2 to 13 for research activity, 3 to 15 for student support and outcomes, and 3 to 12 on diversity.

Those rankings might be skewed in fields with few programs in the country: For example, it is easier to be in the top 10 programs if only 15 such programs are offered nationwide than if there are 150. So the rank ranges can also be expressed as percentile ranges.

To calculate the rankings, the NRC collected data on 20 key variables, grouped under the three subcategory headings.

The NRC's statisticians weighted these variables in two different ways. In the first method, they surveyed university faculty across the country and asked them what factors, such as publications by faculty or time to degree, were most important in the quality of a graduate program. These "survey" weights were used to calculate the "overall-S" score.

In the second method, they asked small groups of professors to rank a subset of programs in a particular field. Then they used regression analysis to work out which variables best predict the program rankings reported by the faculty. This set of weights was used to calculate the "overall-R" score.

The NRC's statisticians analyzed the data 500 times and discarded the top and bottom 5 percent of results to arrive at a range of values, said Division of Graduate Studies analyst Helen Frasier. Statistically, there is a 90 percent probability that the true rank of the program falls into that range.

The overall-S and overall-R scores give divergent results in some cases. The size of a program, for example, has a bigger effect on the overall-R score, Frasier said.

For example, Spanish was ranked 1 to 6 (98th to 90th percentile) on the overall-S scale, but 13 to 42 (78th to 30th percentile) on the overall-R scale. Ecology was ranked from 5 to 28 (95th to 70th percentile) on the overall-S scale, but from 1 to 4 (99th to 96th percentile) on the overall-R scale.

Rankings in the three subcategories highlight different areas of strength, Gibeling said. For example, across the country, it is common for programs that ranked high on research activity to rank lower on diversity.

Nationally, the NRC noted that more students and faculty are participating in doctoral education than in 1995. In particular, the council observed that doctoral education has benefited from dramatic increases in enrollments of international students, minorities and women. These changes reflect the continuing value of U.S. doctoral education and the ability of graduate programs to reach U.S. citizens who have been historically underrepresented in Ph.D. programs, the report said.

About UC Davis

For more than 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 32,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $600 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. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Additional information:
UC Davis survey data (Graduate Studies)
NRC Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs
Media contact(s):
• Jeffery Gibeling, Graduate Studies, (530) 752-2050,
• Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533,

Return to the previous page

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Solano Community Wins 100 Best Title - Again

Solano Community Wins 100 Best Title - Again
Solano County Named One of the Nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People By America’s Promise Alliance and ING

The efforts of Solano County civic and community leaders were honored today when America’s Promise Alliance announced the county had been named a winner of the Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People.

Its 2010 recognition marks the fourth win for Solano County in the competition, and earns the county the distinction of being the only community in California to be a four-time winner.

“Every time America’s Promise has been given a glimpse of Solano County, they have been impressed with what they see,” said Supervisor John Vasquez. “We are blessed with so many people and organizations dedicated to helping our kids get a healthy start, learn and succeed in school, and become productive members of our workforce and community.”

The 100 Best designation recognizes those communities that make youth a priority by implementing programs that help keep children in school and prepare them for college and the 21st century workforce. The competition is open to all communities that make children and youth a priority, including small towns, large cities, counties and school districts. In addition to enhancing local educational opportunities, most winning communities have taken steps to facilitate improved access to health care for its young people, encourage youth civic engagement and supply developmental resources that create better places for young people to live and grow.

The entire 2010 list of 100 Best Communities for Young People and their accomplishments can be found at

“Through its innovative and far-reaching programs, Solano County is taking bold and effective steps to help their young people graduate and lead healthy, productive lives,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, America’s Promise Alliance president and CEO. “Solano County serves as an example to inspire and educate other communities across the nation to tackle the challenges facing their city and children, and to implement initiatives that give them the essential resources they need to succeed in life.”

Solano County was named one of the nation’s 100 Best because of the county’s deep commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable youth. Despite economic and social challenges, Solano County continues to sustain effective community collaboratives and a range of innovative programs to address the community’s needs.

For example, the 100 Best reviewers noted that the Solano Kids Insurance Program, which aims to provide health insurance for every child, has a current success rate of more than 90 percent, and that Solano County also provides 3,000 “Kits for New Parents” each year with DVDs and books on childhood development.

The 100 Best panel also recognized the county for its pre-Kindergarten academies for children lacking preschool, its renovation of a children’s visiting area at the local state prison, its establishment of the Matt Garcia Youth Center, its programs to increase the number of healthy babies born to high-risk mothers and its Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) programs, whose 530 cadets performed over 7,400 hours of community service, to name just a few of the proactive activities addressing the many challenges preventing children and young adults from reaching their full potential.

“The 100 Best designation tells the rest of the country that every community in Solano County is committed to helping our children have the best chance in life we can provide,” said Solano County Library Foundation Executive Director Dilenna Harris. The Library Foundation acted as the lead partner in compiling information for the 2010 Solano County “100 Best Communities” application.

On September 21, 2010, Solano County and the other winners spanning 37 states were recognized at a ceremony in front of the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Each of the winning communities was formally recognized with a designation on a map of the U.S., illustrating the geographic and demographic diversity of the winning 100 communities. In addition to the 100 Best distinction, Solano County and the other top communities will receive two road signs identifying the city as one of 100 Best, as well as a trophy to be presented to local officials later this year.

Alliance Chair Alma Powell and President and CEO Marguerite W. Kondracke revealed the list of winners during the national celebration. They were joined by Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president, ING’s Office of Corporate Responsibility and Multicultural Affairs and Twilight’s Kellan Lutz, who both share a passion for the development of young people.

“ING is committed to children’s education and to the advancement of education initiatives that prepare them for successful futures,” said Mims. ”Our support for 100 Best demonstrates our goal of honoring communities like Solano County that produce real, measurable results for improving the lives of young people.”

The commitment of ING and other corporate sponsors to helping fulfill the “5 Promises” for young people (caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education, and opportunities to help others) is reflected locally in the active support for youth program provided by businesses large and small across Solano County.

“We know that supporting quality preschool and youth programs that help our kids stay in school, earn their high school diplomas and prepare them for college and the workforce is the best thing we can do to ensure Solano County’s economic success,” said Michael Ammann, Solano EDC president. He cited the hundreds of volunteer services hours that local business employees provide for youth programs, and noted that the Solano EDC monthly breakfast meeting featuring early childhood issues this year was attended by over 150 business people.

The 100 Best competition is one element of the Alliance’s Grad Nation campaign, a 10-year initiative to mobilize all Americans to take action in their communities to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. More than 7,000 students drop out each school day in the U.S., resulting in 1.3 million young people a year. To help decrease these numbers, the Alliance is more committed than ever to recognizing communities – regardless of size, location or history – that are taking real action to help more young people stay in school and graduate on time.

“100 Best is an essential building block of an inspiring national movement that gives everyone a chance to ensure every young person graduates,” said Powell. “These winning communities refuse to let the challenges they face be the determining factor in the lives of their children and youth. Instead, they are helping to build an infrastructure of assertive, successful and dynamic young people that are the future of this country.”

100 Best Communities Map for 2010

100 Best Communities Fast Facts for 2010

Solano County' Nomination Package for 2010

About 100 Best
First held in 2005, 100 Best honors communities large and small, rural and urban, that are making progress to help young people achieve their potential, which includes earning a high school diploma, securing a good job, and playing an active, productive role in America’s economic vitality. This year, more than 350 communities in 50 states registered online for the 100 Best distinction at

Being a 100 Best community not only demonstrates commitment to local young people; the award fosters local pride, bolsters economic development and shines the spotlight on the people and programs that are building better communities. The competition also facilitates the sharing of best practices among communities nationwide regarding education, access to health care, reading score improvement, youth service and pre-school enrollment, among many other areas.

About America’s Promise Alliance
America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. Through the collective power of our partner network, we raise awareness, support communities and engage in nonpartisan advocacy to ensure that young people receive more of the fundamental resources they need to graduate high school prepared for college, work and life. Building on the legacy of our Founding Chairman General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes the success of our young people is grounded in the Five Promises—caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. For more information about America’s Promise Alliance, visit

About ING
ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance, and retirement services to over 85 million residential, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 115,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation.

ING’s diversity management philosophy and commitment to workplace diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees who support a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer. For more information, visit

About the ING Foundation
The ING Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on programs in the areas of financial literacy, children’s education, diversity, and environmental sustainability. For more information, visit

Posted: Sept. 21, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Renovation begins at Suisun's Marina Shopping Center

By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | September 17, 2010 15:37

SUISUN CITY - After years of sitting neglected next to Highway 12, the first phase of work to completely renovate the Marina Shopping Center has gotten under way.

Work crews from Pellarin Enterprises are reconfiguring the parking lot and will soon put in new landscaping. Pellarin bought the shopping center three years ago.

This first phase will also include putting in several small pedestrian plazas to encourage more foot traffic and allow customers of the restaurants to dine outside.

A redesigned entry sign is in the process of going up. The upper half will announce the larger retail tenants while the lower half will be for restaurants.

This spring, the Redwood City-based developer will start remodeling the shopping center buildings' facades to make the businesses more noticeable to motorists on Highway 12.

The corner businesses will have their roofs elevated to give them a tower appearance.

Leasing plans call for filling the shopping center with a mix of local small community businesses and larger anchor retail businesses.

The shopping center is the oldest one in Suisun City and slowly lost half its tenants over the years.

All of the remaining tenants such as Cardwell Uniforms, the Marina Market and the churches will stay, said Claude Pellarin, co-owner of Pellarin Enterprises.

Pellarin plans to cluster all of the current community-based tenants such as Meals on Wheels and the Eagle Lodge in the northwest section of the center while the rest will be leased to more traditional retail.

The work is 'very, very exciting,' Suisun City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said.
She said she's pleased Pellarin Enterprises is moving forward with its renovation plans.

'We are thrilled that the new owners are so energetic and are willing to do whatever is needed to make this a gateway project,' Bragdon said.

The project 'dovetails in well with that is going on Main Street,' Suisun City Assistant Planner John Kearns said. The changes such as the plazas will make the shopping center more pedestrian-friendly, according to Kearns.

For more information about the Marina Shopping Center and leasing opportunities, call 339-9600.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or



Gabe Thorn, with Pellarin Construction, does surveying work at the Marina Shopping Center in Suisun City Thursday morning. The center is undergoing an extensive renovation. Photo by Brad Zweerink

Fairfield Ford on track for early opening

By Sarah de Crescenzo | Daily Republic | September 19, 2010 22:20

FAIRFIELD - The first of two anticipated local dealerships will open ahead of schedule this week with Fairfield Ford in the Fairfield Auto Plaza.

Friday is the date for the reopening of the business, which closed nearly two years ago, by the Price Simms Dealer group.

Adam Simms, co-owner with partner Tom Price, plans to oversee the day-to-day operations in Fairfield, serving Ford customers who have been without a local service and sales presence since the 2008 shutdown, he said.

'We're in the process of hiring around 150 new employees and we're going through training on computer systems, processes for the company and cultural orientation,' Simms said. 'We're also in the process of building up our inventory both on the new and used cars side....

'There are 13,000 Ford owners who have had to travel outside of the area to get service done,' Simms said. 'We're looking forward to providing a location for convenient service in the area.'

Work begins this week on the second dealership Price Simms plans to open: a new Mercedez-Benz dealership, also in the Auto Plaza.

Simms expects to hire 100 employees for that location.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I-80 frontage road reopens

Finally, I-80 frontage road reopens

A freeway frontage road and a key link in Solano County's bike system should open by early October after being closed for 12 years because of landslides. Workers have spent the summer repairing the pavement on two miles of McGary Road in the hills between Fairfield and Vallejo at a cost of $2.5 million…. McGary Road is hardly a superstar among Solano County roadways. It is two narrow lanes and runs a mere 3.6 miles, from Red Top Road near Cordelia Villages in Fairfield to the Hiddenbrooke subdivision in Vallejo. Fairfield closed the two miles within its borders in 1998 and county traffic didn't grind to a halt. Yet McGary Road provides the only frontage road to this section of Interstate 80 in case accidents block the freeway. It provides Fairfield residents the most direct route to reach Lynch Canyon Open Space, with its nine miles of hiking trails. For bike riders, the road has particular significance. With the two miles of McGary Road closed, cyclists going from Fairfield to Vallejo faced long detours. They could take frontage roads along Interstate 680 to Benicia and then take Lake Herman Road to Vallejo. Or they could take a potentially harrowing ride on narrow Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon toward Napa and take Highway 29 to Vallejo. Or, rather than see a relatively short journey turned into a long one, some people simply slipped their bikes under the locked gate and took McGary Road anyway, despite the damaged pavement…. Plus, for long-distance cyclists, it is the missing link in the route between San Francisco and the Lake Tahoe/Reno area…. Trouble started for McGary Road after heavy rains of the 1990s exacerbated ancient, underground slides and got the hillsides in the area moving. Pavement on McGary Road and adjacent I-80 heaved up dramatically in 1998. The state continually repaired the freeway, but Fairfield was unwilling to bear the constant expense needed to smooth out fissures on its road. The city initially closed McGary Road to auto traffic only and let cyclists continue to use it. Then, in August 1998, a cyclist riding there at night got into an accident that reports at the time attributed to road conditions and died. Fairfield put up the gate. A few years ago, the state Department of Transportation put in two giant drains a couple of hundred feet deep into the hills near McGary Road and pumped water out. The agency wanted to at least slow the slides tearing up I-80 and keep this major link in the region's transportation system from closing. If the move succeeded for the freeway, it would also succeed for McGary Road. Meanwhile, local cyclists through such forums as the Solano Transportation Authority Bicycle Advisory Committee lobbied for the reopening of McGary Road. By 2006, the giant Caltrans drains had halted pavement deterioration on McGary Road enough that Fairfield was willing to rebuild and reopen the road. It would then de-annex the road and turn it over to Solano County for maintenance. But it had to find the money. Fairfield, working with the county and the STA, started stitching together various funding sources to raise the necessary $2.5 million. The final piece fell into place when the project got $1 million in federal stimulus money. In addition, Solano County decided to repave the section of McGary Road that has remained open beyond Fairfield's borders, a task it has been doing in recent days. That means the entire length of McGary Road will look new….

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

County to hold open houses for underutilized properties

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 15:18:36 -0500

A series of open houses will give potential real estate investors an opportunity to check out five underutilized County-owned properties being considered for potential sale, lease, redevelopment or exchange. The properties are located at 1945/1935 Kidder Ave. in Fairfield, 231 N. First St. in Dixon, 228 Broadway St. in Vallejo and 444 Alabama St. in Vallejo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


University of California, Davis
September 14, 2010


The University of California, Davis, received almost $679 million in research funds in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010. The total is a record for the campus and double what it was a decade ago.

"I congratulate the UC Davis faculty, staff and students on another record-breaking year. UC Davis continues to build on its strengths and create new opportunities to advance our quality of life, whether in biomedical research, agriculture, the environment or engineering,"
said Chancellor Linda Katehi. "We have enormous potential to build on these achievements and rise to even greater heights of distinction, scholarship and service."

UC Davis has seen a steady rise in research funding over the past decade, from $298 million in 2000-01, noted Vice Chancellor for Research Barry Klein.

"UC Davis researchers excel across a wide range of fields, making discoveries that will have a lasting impact on our quality of life,"
Klein said.

Katehi has made expansion of UC Davis' research enterprise a key goal in her vision for the campus. Three recent reports have underscored that goal and recommended next steps: the faculty "blue-ribbon"
committees reports on research and technology transfer; and a report from the Washington Advisory Group, led by Eric Bloch, former director of the National Science Foundation.

All three recommended steps UC Davis can take to build on existing strengths, expand basic research and forge collaborations with industry that help move UC Davis research findings from the laboratory to the marketplace for the betterment of humankind.

Examples of grants awarded to UC Davis faculty in the past year
include: $75 million over five years from the U.S. Agency for International Development to establish a network to detect and prevent diseases moving from wildlife to people; $125,000 from the charitable arm of the National Football League for research on new ways to repair knee injuries; a $4.4 million contract from the National Science Foundation to design a complex physics project in a South Dakota mine that will investigate fundamental questions about the nature of the universe, which may ultimately impact everything from communications to medical treatment; and nearly $12 million over two years to support a range of studies on the causes of autism at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

Almost two-thirds of the total -- $437 million -- came from the federal government, up from $329 million last year. The second largest amount, $60 million, came from the state of California, down from $113 million last year.

Other major sources of research funds included: businesses, $44 million; other institutions of higher education (principally subcontracts on other grants), $36 million; other UC campuses or the UC Office of the President, $23 million; foundations, $8.8 million; charities, $27 million; and other government sources (states other than California, cities and counties), $20 million.

The largest single source of federal funds was the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, principally the National Institutes of Health, which provided $258 million, an increase of more than $60 million over the previous year. The National Science Foundation awarded $64 million, up from almost $50 million last year. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture provided $36 million, up about $4 million.

Other federal award totals:

* Department of Energy, $19 million
* Department of Defense, $19 million
* State Department, $15 million
* Department of the Interior, $11 million
* Departments of Education, $3.5 million
* Department of Justice, $2.3 million
* Department of Commerce, $1.4 million
* Department of Transportation, $590,000
* National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities, $300,000

All federal sources provided increased funding over the previous year.

Research funds awarded to the UC Davis School of Medicine from all sources totaled $211 million, up from $175 million the previous year.
The School of Veterinary Medicine also saw a jump in funds to $109 million from $71 million.

Other unit totals:

* College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, $108 million
* College of Biological Sciences, $62 million
* College of Engineering, $58 million
* Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, College of Letters and Sciences, $29 million
* Office of Research, $50 million (on behalf of interdisciplinary Organized Research Units such as the Bodega Marine Laboratory and the California National Primate Research Center)
* Division of Social Sciences, College of Letters and Science,
$13 million
* Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, College of Letters and Science, $2 million
* University Extension, $12 million
* Division of Graduate Studies, $5.3 million
* School of Education, $4 million

The 2009-10 UC Davis research fund total includes from grants and contracts awarded to the university to support research, including grants from philanthropic foundations. It does not include private gifts, which are reported separately. Following nationally accepted guidelines, grants from philanthropic foundations also may be counted toward philanthropic totals. However, they are counted only once for university accounting purposes.

Much of the money awarded for research goes to salaries and wages of UC Davis employees, ranging from professors who are partly paid out of grants for time that they spend doing research, to adjunct faculty, technical staff, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students who are paid or receive stipends from grants and contracts.

Research awards include both the direct costs of research, such as salaries and laboratory supply costs, and "indirect" costs that are awarded by agencies to fund research infrastructure, such as upkeep and utility costs for research laboratories. Grants and contracts are awarded with strict conditions that typically bar use of the funds for purposes other than research.

Research funding totals were calculated on the basis of dollars transferred to the university during the 2009-10 fiscal year. Some agencies commit to funding multiyear projects but only actually fund one year at a time. In those cases, the grant is counted in annual increments in the year received. If the funding agency provides all of the funds up front, the funds are counted in the first year of funding but not in subsequent years.

According to a survey by the National Science Foundation, UC Davis ranked 17th in the nation in university research and development expenditures and fourth among University of California campuses in fiscal year 2007-8 (the most recent year for which figures are available).

Stimulus funds

UC Davis researchers were awarded $104 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act during fiscal year 2009-10. The largest single ARRA-funded project was $14.2 million to construct a center for research on respiratory diseases at the California National Primate Research Center.

Most ARRA awards funded grant proposals that were already pending or under review at federal granting agencies. While ARRA contributed to UC Davis research funds in 2009-10, some of these proposals may have been funded without ARRA support.

About UC Davis

For more than 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 32,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $600 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. It also houses six professional schools -- Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Media contact(s):
* Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533,

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