Thursday, May 27, 2010

Solano County business leaders encouraged to tout own businesses, California

By Melissa Murphy / The Reporter
Posted: 05/27/2010 01:01:32 AM PDT

Business leaders in Solano County are encouraged not only to tout their own businesses but to tout California, too.

During the monthly Solano Economic Development Corporation gathering on Wednesday, the full room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield heard about Team California and the newly formed Governor's Office of Economic Development.

Trying to shed the reputation of California having an "unfriendly business climate," the two groups are trying to work with cities and counties around the state to not only retain businesses but also recruit.

"Other states have very large budgets to communicate what (businesses) they want and why they shouldn't come to California," explained Mary Ingersoll, director of Team California. She added that with a very small budget, California hasn't done a very good job of promoting the good of the state. "We need to market the assets by working together."

She said it is necessary to invest in economic development programs even though local governments have been hurt badly by the state's grabs of redevelopment funds -- to the tune of $35 million in the next two years for Solano County.

The bright spot in California, Ingersoll noted, is that it's a magnet for innovation, high technology, biotech and now clean technology.

California has nurtured major companies like Google, Apple, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Ebay, Sysco, Facebook and Twitter, she added.

Ingersoll said that it's time for everyone to remind businesses they don't want them to leave, but to stay and help.

Louis Stewart, assistant deputy director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GoED), admits things look a little bleak right now and although GoED doesn't have a silver bullet to turn around the state's economy, the group is committed to market the state.

He encourages business owners to contact him with questions or ideas at

Vacaville leaders: Economy moving in right direction

By Ben Antonius Daily Republic May 26, 2010 09:36

VACAVILLE - After years of painful cuts, Vacaville may finally be seeing economic improvement, city officials said Tuesday.

City Manager Laura Kuhn was careful to hedge her remarks during a budget presentation at Tuesday's meeting of the Vacaville City Council. But the theme was clear: Improvements, however slight, in several facets of city finances.'I don't want to sugar coat it,' Kuhn said.

'We are not out of the woods yet but we are seeing a trend in a positive direction.'The session was the first of two scheduled for different city departments to present their budgets and their forecasts for the coming year. Leaders of the police, fire, public works and utilities departments all presented Tuesday.

The rest of the city departments are scheduled to give their presentations at a June 8 meeting.

For the complete article visit

Speakers outline companies' poor take on state

By Ben Antonius Daily Republic May 26, 2010 13:27

FAIRFIELD - In case there was any question how companies perceive California's business climate, speakers underlined it Wednesday: Bad.

The Solano Economic Development Corporation hosted guests from two state agencies tasked with bringing businesses into California. They acknowledged it's not an easy task.'There is probably not a tougher job right now than selling a business on locating in the state of California,' said Mary Ingersoll, executive director of Team California, a nonprofit group that works with local economic officials.The state has been hammered in business circles for what is seen as an increasingly hostile attitude toward businesses and a burdensome regulatory climate.

For the complete article visit

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dixon City Council to discuss plans for land annexations

By Reporter staff/
Posted: 05/24/2010 01:01:32 AM PDT

A pair of proposed land annexations will be the focus for Dixon city leaders when they meet Tuesday.

The Dixon City Council will hold public hearings on the Parkway West Annexation project and the North Dixon Annexation project.

The Parkway project includes 18.6 acres of land along Pitt School Road north of Parkway Boulevard. It is adjacent to the already-approved West Parkway Infill Plan, and its annexation resolves an objection that Solano County raised in having parcels split between jurisdictions.

The property is currently outside of the city's sphere of influence, which will require an amendment of the boundary in addition to the annexation -- both questions that will ultimately have to be determined by the Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees annexation throughout the county.

The site contains a single-family home and farm buildings, and the applicant is asking that it remain zoned for agriculture.
The second site to be considered, the North Dixon Annexation, includes 34.1 acres in seven parcels and is located on the north side of the Pedrick Road/Interstate 80 interchange.

The city Planning Commission considered the proposal last month and voted in favor of it.

However some planning commissioners "express concern," a staff report notes. Specifically they question why the annexation is necessary right now since there is no development planned currently and there are "uncertainties" about traffic and water there, as well as the future of the Flying J, a proposed truck stop and travel center idea for the area that has languished for more than a year.

Nonetheless, the property owners want to move forward with annexation because they hope to develop the area in the future and believe being within the city boundaries would be in their best interests, according to the staff report.

The Dixon City Council meets at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 600 East A St.

Nut Tree Airport plan shared

A sustained, full-service airport is just one vision stakeholders have in mind for the future of the Nut Tree Airport. A stakeholders' meeting, followed by a community outreach meeting Thursday evening elaborated on the vision and goals that are desired for the Nut Tree Airport in its updated master plan.

The group of about 30 met in the Harbison event center in the Nut Tree center to discuss the first draft of the vision, existing conditions and forecasts of aviation activity. "We're interested in seeing this being a viable asset," said Vacaville Vice Mayor Curtis Hunt, adding that the city and the county will benefit from a thriving airport.

The Nut Tree Airport is owned and operated by Solano County and is open to the general public and to visiting aircraft. It has been in continuous operation at its current site since 1955. Ideas of expanding the runway -- which is 4,700 feet in length and 75 feet wide -- and incorporating adjacent businesses are both on the table, as well as including Travis Air Force Base in the scope of future development.

Travis Air Force Base, according to Ryan Hayes with consulting group Barnard Dunkelberg and Company, explained that the Nut Tree Airport's runway sits along the outside of the military base restricted fly zone area. "We would not recommend any development that would adversely affect Travis," Hayes said.

Project Manager Peter Van Pelt added that the size of the runway will play a major part in what types of aircraft can land at the airport in the future. Representatives from the consulting group also shared that they forecast aviation activity to grow modestly during the next 20 years. Total landings and takeoffs in 2009 equaled 101,500 and that's expected to grow, based on certain industry trends, to 127,329 in 2030. 

"During this time other airports might see it level off or even decline." Meanwhile, some residents have concerns about additional noise levels and whether there is accurate representation of people who would be affected by changes at the small airport. Van Pelt explained that's exactly why a stakeholders meeting was created.

Planners OK Middle Green Valley project

A plan to transform rural Middle Green Valley into an area with preserved farmland and 400 new homes in three neighborhoods got endorsed Thursday by the Solano County Planning Commission. The commission held a three-hour public hearing on the plan and its environmental impact report. It agreed to forward the plan and associated documents to the county Board of Supervisors by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Dan Mahoney, Kelly Rhoads-Poston and Karimah Karah voted 'yes,' and commissioners Rod Boschee and Fred Barnes voted 'no.' No commissioner criticized the overall concept of the Middle Green Valley plan.

For the complete story visit

Solano area's home prices rebound a bit

Home prices in Solano County are rising and will continue to for the next year, according to the latest report by an industry analysis firm. National home prices, including distressed sales, increased nearly 2 percent in March compared to a year ago, according to CoreLogic's Home Price Index. In the Vallejo-Fairfield area, the CoreLogic index report reveals home prices, including distressed sales, increased by .24 percent in March compared to last March. This compares to February's -3.68 percent year-over-year index.

Compared to last April, Solano County home prices were up 14 percent last month. Those were led by Vallejo, where prices rose 28 percent and Suisun, where they were up 15 percent…. But Vallejo experienced a 28 percent drop in sales volume last month -- from 198 in March to 143 in April, making last month the second strongest so far this year, Herman said. He and Willis said they chalk this, and last month's 17 percent drop in sales countywide, to a lack of available inventory. The Vallejo market, for instance, went from a glut of more than 1,200 available houses at the peak of the foreclosure crisis, to maybe a couple hundred now.

"I think what the market needs is more inventory countywide," Willis said. "I'm not saying we need 1,200 homes on the market, but a few hundred more would help stabilize things." Willis said he suspects there are still vacant properties out there, and expects more inventory to hit the market in coming months. "I expect a new wave of short sale properties, with new rules for banks outlined in the new federal Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Mortgage (HAFA) Program".

PG&E to cut electricity rates June 1

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will cut average rates for all electricity customers by 3 percent beginning June 1 in an effort to help business and residential customers manage electricity costs. “California is in the midst of its worst economic downturn in nearly 70 years,” Helen Burt, PG&E’s senior vice president and chief customer officer, said in a news release. “We have an obligation to all our customers to help them keep their energy costs and usage in check.” While PG&E is lowering the average rates for all customers by 3 percent, individual customers’ bills will vary depending on how much electricity they use. Besides lowering the average rates, PG&E also will cut the top residential rate charged for the highest level of use by 19.6 percent, and drop the next highest level of use by 5.8 percent. Rates for the middle tier will rise 1.8 percent to help offset o

Mare Island dry docks one step closer to Reopening in Vallejo

Mare Island dry docks one step closer to Reopening in Vallejo

A proposed Mare Island project described as "not your grandfather's dry docks," was universally lauded Thursday by a state Bay waters oversight commission and the public. In a 17-0 vote, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission approved the reuse of two dormant former Mare Island Naval Shipyard dry docks, and the dredging of accumulated silt in the Mare Island Strait.

The action was a key one in the future of the former shipyard -- and Vallejo -- and could launch new activity at the historic dry docks that have been dormant since 1996. But hurdles remain. Allied Recycling Defense officials, who are applying for project permits, hope to initially fund their ship recycling, repair and maintenance venture by winning the right to dismantle some of the remaining retired Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet "mothball" ships.

While winning federal backing for that dismantling has not yet occurred, Allied Recycling Defense's project did win strong backing at Thursday's hearing. "You seldom have an opportunity to pass on an application that is a win-win for all parties involved in the application," Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis told the commission. "This could just be the project that gives hope to the community again, that we can and we will. I encourage you to look at this as more than just an application ... (it's a) catalyst for a community that is struggling."

Davis was one of 11 speakers, including local business and labor leaders, and even some of the proposed shipyard's would-be neighbors. The window for dredging in the strait with the least impact to local fish is a narrow one -- beginning in August and ending in October. Anast said if this year's window closes without the company beginning operations, there may not be enough mothballed ships to make his venture viable.

"We have an incredibly short time in which to get this done," Anast said. Anast's concerns rise with the commission's conditional approval, requiring final operation comments from local and federal fish protection agencies. Those agencies will seek to protect endangered fish life that may be affected by the dry docks' reuse after 14 years of dormancy.


University of California, Davis
May 21, 2010


A new venture that could save thousands of lives and millions of dollars by accelerating development and production of animal and human vaccines won the $15,000 grand prize Thursday in the 10th annual Big Bang! Business Plan Competition organized by MBA students of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

The process conceived by a group of UC Davis students substitutes tobacco plants for conventional manufacturing methods that rely on chicken eggs and cell culture, to cut development time for new vaccines from six months to as little as six weeks, according to Lucas Arzola, a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering who headed the winning team, Inserogen.

The Inserogen plan noted that the U.S. government spent $1.3 billion to develop an H1N1 vaccine, but could deliver only 30 million of 160 million promised doses by last summer. With limited supplies of the vaccine, 86 million Americans were infected with the flu virus and, of those, 17,000 died.

The Inserogen team and the evening's "People's Choice" winner, a blueprint for a new infant diagnostics test developed by a team known as Pedianostics, were invited to compete in the $250,000 DFJ Cisco International Business Plan competition, which will pit the UC Davis teams against winners of similar contests at other top West Coast business schools.

A third UC Davis team, Nomad Technologies, finished second with a UC Davis-patented nanotechnology-based design that could increase computer hard drive capacity by more than 800 percent. The team, four Bay Area Working Professional MBA students from the management school's San Ramon campus, won $5,000. Pedianostics won $3,000 for the People's Choice Award, which is decided by a vote of the event's audience.

Sacramento venture capitalist Roger Akers, one of those who supported the launch of Big Bang! as a student-run competition in 2000, said it has evolved dramatically over the past decade. It drew more than 40 entries this year.

"Every year we've seen an incremental growth in the quality of the plans and the quality of the teams that come together," said Akers, one of the contest's judges. "Now the organization has its own brand and it own identity. The prize money has quadrupled. The quality of the business plans from all the interdisciplinary areas now are fundable."

Organized and run since its inception by UC Davis MBA students, the competition is designed to inspire and reward innovation and entrepreneurship. Previous winners and finalists have gone on to form companies such as VinPerfect, Bloo Solar, SialoGen, Ultra V and Visual Calc.

"A solid business plan competition is really at the heart of a world-class business school," said Vlad Loscutoff, a first-year MBA student who chaired this year's Big Bang! organizing committee.
"Entrepreneurship embraces many of the core values that are part of earning an MBA - motivation, teamwork, being a self-starter, ethics and morals."

This year's winners were announced on campus Thursday night, following presentations of the five finalists' plans. The event drew a crowd of nearly 300 people to the UC Davis Conference Center.

Arzola, the leader of Inserogen, said Big Bang! workshops and mentoring helped the team build a network and business plan around a nascent idea.

"It all starts with the research labs at Davis," said Arzola, who earned a bachelor's degree in industrial biotechnology at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. "UC Davis is a great place to start our company because of the great expertise available in agriculture, engineering, veterinary health and medicine."

"We got help from so many people, from lab mates, from my teammates, from judges and mentors ... It's really amazing how the idea evolved," Arzola said.

Inserogen, whose name is derived from Latin and means to plant a gene, would use tobacco leaves as "biofactories" for the rapid production of vaccines and other biopharmaceuticals.

Conventional methods of vaccine production used by big manufacturers rely on chicken-egg or cell-culture technology. Both methods require long development times, and have a very high cost. Cell culture in particular requires expensive facilities containing specialized equipment, such as large stainless steel bioreactors.

"Our technology aims to replace the upstream part of these biotech facilities with leaves from tobacco plants that only require sunlight, water, and soil to grow," Arzola explained. "We are able to harness a plant's natural ability to produce proteins, and we are able to make them produce our vaccine of interest within their leaves."

This year, for the first time, Big Bang! organizers welcomed top teams from the Sacramento State College of Business Administration and the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy to vie for $33,000 in total prize money awarded to finalists and winners of Big Bang!

A companion competition, known as Little Bang! and aimed largely at UC Davis science and engineering students, was reworked and incorporated into Big Bang! as a business pitch competition.

The contest began more than seven months ago in mid-October. The changes, inspired by the 10th anniversary of Big Bang! and the business school's recent move into the new Gallagher Hall on the UC Davis campus, were designed to expand the competition's reach into the greater Sacramento business community as well as the campus's science and engineering ranks.

"It brings together people from the business community, from the financial investment community, technologists, scientists and engineers and our MBA students," said Steven Currall, dean of the Graduate School of Management. "It's really a terrific mix of talent and human capital."

With this year's prizes, Big Bang! has awarded more than $190,000 to 30 promising student projects. In the process, it has become one of the best known business-plan competitions on the West Coast.

Some of Northern California's largest employers, venture capitalists and law firms provide the prize money, coaching and volunteer judges.

About the UC Davis Graduate School of Management

Established in 1981, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management provides management education to 120 full-time MBA and more than 450 Working Professional MBA students on the UC Davis campus, in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. For 15 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UC Davis among the top 10 percent of MBA programs in the nation. Only 35 business schools share this track record. The Financial Times, The Economist and the Aspen Institute's Center for Business Education rank the UC Davis MBA program among the best in the world.

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.

For more information, visit

Media contact(s):
* Tim  Akin, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-7362,
* Jim Sweeney, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-6101,

Our full UC Davis directory of media services and 24-hour contact information is available at <>.
Need information from campus news archives? The UC Davis News Service database contains past (and current) UC Davis news stories dating to 1991. Go to <>.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mare Island 'ship shop' may get nod

By Jessica A. York / Times-Herald
Posted: 05/19/2010 01:02:35 AM PDT

A state bay oversight commission will weigh in Thursday on a proposed ship dismantling, repair and maintenance operation at two dormant Mare Island dry docks.

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission staff members are recommending the application's approval, which could lead to the local dismantling of federal "mothballed" reserve ships in Suisun Bay.

"What this project would do is enable the Mothball Fleet ... to be cleaned up faster, with jobs in Vallejo. Now that's pretty damn neat," said BCDC Executive Director Will Travis of the project's "big picture."

"So that's why we're recommending it be approved, ... in addition to believing that it's complying with state laws and regulations."

With the agency's nod, applicant Allied Recycling Defense, doing business as California Dry Dock Solutions, can move forward in acquiring a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The permit would be to dredge 10 years' worth of silt in front of the dry dock doors in the Mare Island Strait, according to BCDC staffers.

The company has proposed to begin site work by early August and end dredging by October. Startup costs are estimated at $1.2 million.

The project, several years in the making, received Vallejo Planning Commission approval in November. In the future, property owner Lennar Mare Island will need to work out a lease with the company, contingent on a steady venture funding source.

Lennar Mare Island spokesman Jason Keadjian said

Thursday's hearing is a big step for the project.

"This is another significant step which is necessary in order to allow for ADR or California Dry Dock Solutions to bid on the ship dismantling work from MARAD (U.S. Maritime Administration)," Keadjian said.

Project plans for the site include construction of a 120-space parking lot, demolition of four buildings and installation of a public overlook area between Nimitz and Waterfront avenues. It also includes plans to win federal contracts to dismantle ships from the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, docked off Benicia's coast.

To reduce impacts on several state- and federally listed endangered fish species, the company would be required to remove a fish migration barrier and restore a Chinook salmon spawning stream bed. Also, the company would acquire, improve and permanently preserve about five acres of fish habitat, according to a BCDC staff report.

For more information on Allied Recycling Defense, visit or call (707) 769-7824.

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

Solano County crawls toward recovery

Economist says region depends on its neighbors

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen / Times-Herald
Posted: 05/19/2010 01:02:33 AM PDT

First one in, last one out.

That's how the head of an economic think tank on Tuesday described Solano County's recession experience.

"Your area's recovery is really dependent on the vigor of the recovery in the neighboring areas," said the director of the Eberhardt School of Business Forecasting Center, Jeffrey Michael. "But we're already seeing early signs of recovery in the South Bay, and we think the next area to see significant recovery will be San Francisco, and then it should move inland."

Being mostly in a commuter area, Solano County's economic health is strongly tied to jobs in the East Bay and San Francisco, Michael said.

The East Bay has fared especially poorly in the recession, and the recent closure of Fremont's New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) plant has not helped, he added.

"You're heavily connected to housing and dependent on local government employment, which is not a good place to be," he said.

But the Vallejo area's economic forecast remains fairly flat compared to last quarter, with no dramatic changes either way, Michael said.

"Like a lot of areas, Solano is searching for the bottom," Michael said. "The area fell into the recession about a year earlier than most of the rest of the region, and it looks like it's lagging behind in the recovery."

Southern California and Silicon Valley are seeing the strongest signs of recovery, he said. But as San Francisco's recovery gains traction, it "will spill over into Vallejo, by the end of this year, the beginning of next year," he said.

Personal income in Solano County is expected to grow strongly -- to 3.4 percent as the economy recovers next year, according to the center -- an economic think tank affiliated with the University of the Pacific. Center officials predict the Vallejo area will continue slowly shedding jobs for the rest of this year, but job growth should return in 2011 at about 2 percent, after 17 consecutive quarters of job losses.

"Economic recovery will translate into job growth starting the fourth quarter of 2010, as employers in manufacturing, professional and business services, and trade, transportation and utilities add jobs," according to the center's study. "But not enough to offset losses in other sectors."

The forecast suggests job growth in Solano County will take hold in earnest the first quarter of next year and continue in 2012 at a nearly 4 percent rate.

The area's population will increase only slightly this year, and growth is expected to remain under 1 percent annually through 2015, according to the forecast.

Unemployment in the area is ex-pected to drop from more than 12 percent, to 10.6 percent next year. It is forecast to reach 9.2 percent in 2012.

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

UC Davis doctors win telehealth awards

Sacramento Business Journal - May 18, 2010

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Business News - Local News

UC Davis doctors win telehealth awards

Sacramento Business Journal - by Kathy Robertson Staff writer

Two UC Davis doctors have received top awards at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual meeting in San Antonio, and a third was appointed to the association board.
ATA’s annual meeting and exposition began Sunday and ends late Tuesday. The organization is a leading resource and advocate for expanding access to medical care via telecommunications technology.
Dr. Thomas Nesbitt received the 2010 Leadership Award for the Advancement of Telemedicine, which recognizes individual leadership at the local, national and international level in promoting telehealth.
A professor of family and community medicine, associate vice chancellor and founding director of the UC Davis Center for Health and Technology, Nesbitt has been a driving force behind programs that address unique health care and educational needs of patients and medical professionals throughout California. Under his direction, UC Davis has developed one of the nation’s leading telehealth programs.
Nesbitt is also a leader in state and national telehealth initiatives. He is codirector of a federally funded pilot project called the California Telehealth Network, which will connect up to 860 clinical sites across the state.
Dr. James Marcin, professor of pediatric critical care medicine and director of the pediatric telemedicine program at the UC Davis Health System, received a special interest group and chapter achievement award for his efforts to advance the practice or pediatric telemedicine.
Dr. Peter Yellowlees, an expert on use of telemedicine and psychiatry who teaches at the UC Davis School of Medicine, was appointed to the ATA board of directors. Yellowlees has advocated the use of telemedicine in psychiatry since the early 1990s and is an expert in health informatics, which includes the acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of information in medicine.

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UC Davis stimulus awards top $100M

Business News - Local News

UC Davis stimulus awards top $100M

Sacramento Business Journal - by Michael Shaw Staff writer

The University of California Davis has received more than $104 million in federal stimulus funds through 231 awards and grants for research in areas ranging from asthma to clean energy, the university said Tuesday.
The largest single American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award to date is $14.2 million from the National Center for Research Resources to construct a 19,000-square-foot building for respiratory disease research at the California National Primate Research Center. The building, which will include offices, lab space, and animal holding areas, brings together UC Davis researchers from the schools of medicine and veterinary medicine who work on childhood asthma, the effects of air pollution, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S.
The stimulus funding has created the equivalent of 237 full-time positions at the university.
“By backing research at UC Davis, the federal government is investing not only in the nation’s future but in ours, and we are grateful for that investment,” UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi said. “While the boost from Recovery Act funds is temporary, we aim to sustain UC Davis’ growth as a leading research university.”

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Benicia deal will beautify Pine Lake site

By Tony Burchyns / Times-Herald
Posted: 05/18/2010 01:01:38 AM PDT

BENICIA -- A landscaping project that could transform the old Pine Lake site into a green city gateway has won city approval.

The project will add trees and water to the view from eastbound Interstate 780 at the foot of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge.

Once a scenic destination, the area was turned over to industrial use decades ago in a land swap that gave the city more control over its waterfront. The lake was drained and the dusty bowl has been used for storage.

Construction outfit CC Myers Inc., which leases the parcel, sought city approval for the project. City officials pushed for the landscaping in exchange for allowing a new storage building on the site.

"The project will greatly improve the appearance of the Industrial Park," said Dana Dean, an attorney representing CC Myers Inc. who presented the project to the Planning Commission last week.

"The trees over time will draw your eyes toward the Carquinez Bridge," Dean added, referring to drivers' sight lines after merging from Interstate 680 to 780.

The project will consist of a new storage building -- about 2,000 square feet in size -- six acres of trees, native grasses and other vegetation and three decorative water features totaling 3,300 square feet. The first project phases are expected to move forward this summer, although the water features are still under design.

The project site is at 2000 Park Road. The 27-acre parcel contains a 3,600 square-foot building and a gravel parking lot.

The land is owned by Benicia Port operator Amports Inc. and leased by CC Myers, primarily for storage.

City officials said the landscaping and waterways satisfy the requirements of a 1987 agreement between Benicia Industries and the city to provide open space, landscaping and water features on the site.

The proposed land uses comply with the Benicia general plan's policy to "Support the development of the Pine Lake area as an attractive, aesthetic gateway with a water feature," Benicia Community Development Director Charlie Knox said.

"At one time it was beautiful," Planning Commissioner Richard Bortolazzo said. "It was like Lake Herman ... all natural and no structures ... it was very nice."

Bortolazzo said he hopes the city can do more to beautify the areas visible from freeways carrying people into town.

"The problem I have with it (now) is all of that construction equipment draws the eye," Bortolazzo said, adding it could be years before any new trees block that view.

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

University of Phoenix offers new education programs

May 17, 2010 23:24

FAIRFIELD - Three new degree programs for current teachers and college instructors at the Sacramento Valley campuses of the University of Phoenix are currently enrolling students.Students can enroll at the UOPX College of Education to earn one of three master's of arts in education degrees: teacher leadership, administration and supervision, and adult education and training.The teacher leadership program is intended to prepare teachers to advance to positions such as director, principal or administrator, or enhance the educational experience of students in the classroom by improving communication and leadership skills.

For the complete article visit

Suisun City looks to sign to increase downtown business

By Ian Thompson DAILY REPUBLIC May 17, 2010 16:42

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City officials hope a one-story sign facing Highway 12 from the downtown that describes the waterfront will get more people to stop, shop and dine there.The idea is to put up the sign near the western end of Spring Street next to the train station facing west to get more east-bound motorists on Highway 12 to stop in Suisun City's waterfront district.

Suisun City's Redevelopment Agency has already spent $16,500 with Earthquake Structures Inc. to come up with a design for what is described as an iconic waterfront district sign atop four pillars with a clock face on it. It has budgeted to spend up to $265,000 to build the sign itself that had been inspired by the sign over the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle.

The idea for the sign came from a study the city funded last year that included the idea of putting up unique signs that would catch motorists' eyes.

For the complete article visit

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fairfield City Planners approve Lowe's for Fairfield

City Planners approve Lowe's for Fairfield

By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | May 12, 2010 22:32

FAIRFIELD - With a promise to bring in more than 100 jobs and potentially millions of future taxes, home improvement giant Lowe's got a unanimous thumbs-up Wednesday for a new Fairfield store.

Lowe's will build a 139,000-square-foot store near North Texas Street and Interstate 80 under a plan that got approval from the city's planning commission on Wednesday night. Lowe's will inhabit a parcel newly created as part of a project to rebuild the nearby I-80 interchange.

The commission's decision is the last word on the project unless somebody appeals to the City Council. There were no indications of such opposition on Wednesday night, however.

'We're blessed to even have them looking at this site,' said commissioner Ray Reyff. 'We should not delay that . . . for one minute.' . .

Including a 111,470-square-foot building and 27,615-square-foot garden center, Lowe's will likely employ 120 to 150 people, Anderson said. City planners have previously said the store could generate somewhere around $300,000 a year in sales tax and about $1.9 million in building fees. The city will also get about $5 million from selling the land for Lowe's, planners said Wednesday. . . .

Work at the site could start as soon as the summer. The new Fairfield store will not affect the prospects for the Lowe's in Vacaville, company officials said. The proximity is not uncommon for two stores, they said.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

Tech boot camp explores online tools and trends

By Ben Antonius Daily Republic May 16, 2010 22:38

FAIRFIELD - In the rapidly changing world of technology, a little refresher never hurts.The Solano College Small Business Development Center will host its '2010 Technology Boot Camp' on Wednesday, meant to bring business owners up to speed on the latest technology trends.The event will concentrate on all aspects of 'moving your business online,' with training on cloud computing services, free online technology tools, e-mail marketing, website and search engine optimization, and using the latest social networking tools as part of an integrated marketing strategy.

For the complete article visit

Council considers $300k plan to rehab roadway

By Ben Antonius Daily Republic May 14, 2010 14:45

FAIRFIELD - Battered Air Base Parkway will get a facelift under a new $300,000 plan.The Fairfield City Council will decide Tuesday whether to spend the money to re-pave Air Base Parkway and completely rebuild part of Walters Road north of Air Base Parkway.'(Walters Road) is so bad out there that you have just got to go down to the base and start again,' said George Hicks, assistant director of public works.The council is being asked to weigh a $300,741 contract with Petaluma-based North Bay Construction to do the work. It had the lowest of 11 bids for the project, which was expected to cost closer to $400,000. The economic recession has resulted in lower bids for construction projects as of late.If the contract is approved, the work would likely cause a few effects on local drivers, Hicks said. It is not yet clear when the work would start.

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Physics and Popsicle sticks: Bridge building competition gets heavy

By Sarah de Crescenzo Daily Republic May 16, 2010 22:33

FAIRFIELD - High school physics students put their knowledge to the test on Saturday at the Carpenters Training Center in a bridge building competition.Hosted by the Solano County Office of Education, teams from Vacaville, Vanden, Will C. Wood, Vallejo and Benicia high schools brought in their bridges to see how much weight they could hold before breaking.

A Vacaville High School team set the new record for the annual competition, holding 1,410 pounds before giving way.One of nine teams fielded by Will C. Wood High School won first place -- which factored in an oral presentation, written report and technical drawing, in addition to how much weight the bridge could hold.'It's a friendly competition,' Lloyd Chan, AP Physics teacher at Will C. Wood, said.Chan said parents and teachers provided a receptive audience for the students as they showed off their work.The bridges, built out of glue and Popsicle sticks, were constructed mainly at the students' homes over the past weeks to allow for drying time.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Vallejo gets money for hybrid bus

Times-Herald staff report
Posted: 05/14/2010 01:02:12 AM PDT

Vallejo is getting almost $175,000 from the state Department of Transportation to pay for one hybrid bus that uses both gasoline and electricity, the agency announced Thursday.

The money is part of the $63.3 million Caltrans is dispersing to public transit and air quality projects throughout the state.

Fairfield will get $300,000 to improve bus stops.

All of the funding comes from Proposition 1B, the 2006 transportation bond, which includes $3.6 billion to improve California's public transit.

Other bigger ticket items include $1.3 million to BART to help extend the line to Warm Springs, a project that will add more than five miles of new rail line and establish a new station south of the existing Fremont Station.

The agency is also designating $4.8 million to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to pay for the repair of eight light rail vehicles, build a new light rail line, and improve communications and speed.

Vallejo's Six Flags to begin 'Year of the Dolphin' program; allows public to swim with dolphins

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen / Times-Herald
Posted: 05/14/2010 01:01:56 AM PDT

If you have to move through water, there's no cooler way than by holding on to a dolphin's dorsal fin. I know this, because on Thursday, I swam with a dolphin during Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's Year of the Dolphin kick-off event.

The new program, soon open to the public, includes a 45-minute, pre-encounter lesson on dolphin basics in the park's new classroom.

It's the next stage -- squeezing into a wetsuit -- that was most terrifying, at least for me, a person no longer as svelte as I once was. This was finally accomplished in the park's brand new locker room and shower facility.

Then the procession of media sausages made its way to the pool, where we met the trainers who would facilitate our encounter with several

Vallejo Times-Herald reporter Rachel Raskin-Zrihen and photographer Chris Riley get to know a dolphin during Thursday's media event at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. (Courtesy photo) Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Times-Herald photographer Chris Riley and I were in a group of four that spent some time with Terry, Discovery Kingdom's 50-year-old female bottlenose.

Education Supervisor Nisa Andersson, said dolphins typically live about 25 years, so Terry is among the nation's oldest. Other media representatives encountered dolphins Matti, 4, and the park's youngest, Mavrick, 21/2, which our group also had a chance to meet.

After hugging, stroking, kissing, dancing with and tossing fish treats to Terry, we each had a chance to hop a ride as she swam by, cutting through the water like a torpedo. Awesome.

The 20-minute in-water experience is followed by a short, soggy walk back to the locker room, the peeling off of the wetsuit, showering, dressing and assembling poolside for a gourmet lunch.

The dolphins swam, and occasionally took a peek at the diners, who enjoyed a delicious meal, including salad, a steak, chicken or vegetarian main course with sides, and dessert, which was, as they say, to die for.

We all agreed with our table-mate, who noted it was probably a good thing there was no fish on the menu.

Park officials are working to partner with several Napa Valley wineries, Andersson Mavrick, a 2-year-old, inquisitive dolphin, gets a closer look through the viewing window in the Dolphin Encounters pool at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom on Thursday. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald) said. The hope is to offer their wines at the luncheon and create a relationship to foster winery visitors coming to Discovery Kingdom and vice-versa, she said.

The dolphin experience cost ranges from about $200 for everything, including parking, the swim and the lunch, to $15 for a poolside dolphin petting encounter and photo.

Visitors can also buy paintings by the park's dolphins and killer whales, which range in price from $20 to $250.

"We hope that what our guests take away is an awe and respect for these amazing marine mammals," Park president Eric Gilbert said. "By making this unique connection -- literally face to face with Atlantic bottle nose dolphins -- participants may be motivated to learn more on their own, and understand the need to conserve their counterparts in the wild."

David Grant set to open new dialysis center

By Ian Thompson DAILY REPUBLIC May 13, 2010 17:08

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE - Local veterans won't have to ask for directions to find David Grant Medical Center's new joint hemodialysis center.A larger, state-of-the-art 16-seat center is expected to open within the next few weeks within steps of the military hospital's front entrance, replacing the present 10-seat center located on the third floor.It has taken a year and $1.6 million to design and build the new center which will be jointly run by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.The center is getting its final touches at the location of what was once David Grant's Tricare Service Center.

For the complete article visit

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

City set to buy Howard Johnson's property

By Ben Antonius Daily Republic May 13, 2010 16:37

FAIRFIELD - The end of Howard Johnson's is nigh.Perhaps Fairfield's most famous vacancy, the fading orange building could soon be no more. The city has apparently reached a tentative deal to buy the North Texas Street property from its longtime owner for $4.5 million. Once escrow closes, the wrecking crews will come.'Once we acquire the property, we will remove the building and put the property on the market,' said Curt Johnston, economic development manager for the city.Longtime property owner Edward Carter didn't return calls to his Pacifica office seeking comment.The sale is the first major change for the site since the restaurant closed in the early 1990s. The lack of activity wasn't due to a shortage of ideas. Past proposals have included a hotel, dance club, gas station and fast food uses.Johnston said the property is large enough to potentially accommodate more than one business, but he said the city isn't seeking a specific kind of proposal.

For the complete article visit

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

City Planners approve Lowe's for Fairfield

By Ben Antonius Daily Republic May 12, 2010 22:32

FAIRFIELD - With a promise to bring in more than 100 jobs and potentially millions of future taxes, home improvement giant Lowe's got a unanimous thumbs-up Wednesday for a new Fairfield store.Lowe's will build a 139,000-square-foot store near North Texas Street and Interstate 80 under a plan that got approval from the city's planning commission on Wednesday night. Lowe's will inhabit a parcel newly created as part of a project to rebuild the nearby I-80 interchange.The commission's decision is the last word on the project unless somebody appeals to the City Council.

For the complete story visit

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Touro University ranks 10th in nation for percentage of primary care doctors graduating

By Sarah Rohrs / Times-Herald
Posted: 05/07/2010 01:12:42 AM PDT

Vallejo's Touro University has gotten major accolades for doing its part to infuse new life into a rapidly dwindling field -- that of the old-fashioned family doctor.

The U.S. News and World Report national ranking of medical schools placed Touro University's College of Osteopathic Medicine 10th in the nation for percentage of medical students who choose the primary care route.

College Dean Dr. Michael Clearfield said the significance of the recognition is big. The rankings were made public last week.

The vast majority of medical students go into specialties rather than primary care because of pay and red tape with insurance company reimbursements, Clearfield said.

He added the decline in medical students choosing primary care careers is posing a serious threat to the nation's health care system.

"We are an aging population that is going to need a lot more care and we already don't have enough physicians to do it," Clearfield said.

The need for primary health care providers will be further exacerbated as the nation transitions into a more inclusive health care system, he said.

Old-fashioned family doctors are not yet a thing of the past, but they could be if more emphasis is not placed on promoting that field, he said.

Each year, about 135 students graduate from Touro's College of Osteopathic Medicine, with between 70 and 80 going into primary care, Clearfield said.

The magazine's prestigious national rankings are based on an average of students graduating in 2007, 2008 and 2009 who go into primary care.

The No. 1 ranked school for producing primary care physicians is Michigan State University. No. 2 is West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, followed by University of North Texas Health Science Center, according to the U.S. News and World Report website.

A 2008 survey of medical students by the University of California at San Francisco showed only 2 percent of medical students planned to go into primary care, according to a Touro University announcement.

A similar survey conducted in 1990 showed 9 percent chose primary care, the school's announcement said.

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

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Vacaville now has a college - Solano Community College dedicates campus

It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here: Solano Community College's Vacaville Center will be officially dedicated on Saturday. Relative newcomers may be scratching their heads, but longtime residents will recall that the college's current building on North Village Parkway, just off Vaca Valley Parkway, is a "temporary" one.

When it opened in 1996, officials hoped that construction on the 60-acre Vacaville campus would be started within five years. Failed state bond measures thwarted that timeline. Solano County voters put the project back on track in 2002 when they adopted Measure G, a $124.5 million bond that has paid for renovations on SCC's main campus in Fairfield, a new center in Vallejo and, now, the start of the Vacaville campus. At 10 a.m. Saturday, local and state dignitaries will gather across the street from the "temporary" building to dedicate a $27 million, 40,000-square-foot, two-story multipurpose building that will serve college students for decades to come…. In years to come, the center hopes to partner with four-year colleges to offer classes, and become the hub of SCC's biotechnology program, an especially good fit, since it is located across the street from Genentech.

These ideas and more may take time to bring to fruition, but as the Vacaville campus itself has already shown, good plans do eventually take root. Saturday's celebration is something this community has looked forward to for nearly two decades.

Welcome to Vacaville, SCC.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Claire Pomeroy Awards celebrate region’s best medical technology

Claire Pomeroy Awards celebrate region’s best medical technology

Awardees and Claire Pomeroy © SARTA
The inaugural Claire Pomeroy Awards recognizing regional advances in medical technology were given at the Med Tech Showcase at Sacramento State University. Pictured from left to right are John Mesic (who attended on behalf of Edward Smeloff), Claire Pomeroy, Philip Coelho, Warren Smith and Richard Wertz.

Posted April 7, 2010

Sacramento has long been home to medical technology innovation and on the forefront of medical technology. To recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement within the Sacramento region in the invention of medical devices and medical information technology products, MedStart created the Claire Pomeroy Awards, named in honor of the vice chancellor for Human Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at UC Davis. The inaugural award celebration was held on March 30 as part of the Med Tech Showcase at Sacramento State.

The Claire Pomeroy Awards recognize and celebrate some of the many medical technology successes developed in the past, with one award each for the last three decades.

Claire Pomeroy © UC Regents“Honoring hard work and innovation is a wonderful catalyst for new medical discoveries and a powerful opportunity to develop the future of our community and region.”
— Claire Pomeroy

“Honoring hard work and innovation is a wonderful catalyst for new medical discoveries and a powerful opportunity to develop the future of our community and region,” said Pomeroy, who oversees UC Davis Health System and all of its academic, research and clinical programs. “By recognizing visionary entrepreneurs, we will encourage others to join in the transformation of medical technologies and help advance health care for everyone. I am honored to be part of the Med Tech awards.”

The winners of the inaugural awards were:

  • Philip Coelho for the BioArchive System, a robotic cryogenic system for the Controlled Rate Freezing, LN2 storage and retrieval of cord blood stem cell units. The system leads in its market and was the initial product foundation for local company ThermoGenesis.
  • Edward Smeloff for developing one of the earliest commercial heart valves. The Smeloff-Cutter heart valve has been on the market for more than 40 years with multi-decade effectiveness and durability; royalties from the product helped fund further research at Sutter Health.
  • Warren Smith for developing the Pk factor method of monitoring patients under anesthesia. The Pk factor is widely used to help monitor the consciousness of patients under anaesthesia and is currently in use by monitors sold by Aspect Medical Systems.
  • Richard Wertz for creating the autoscan automated microbiology diagnostic system. This standardized lab plate system helped speed the bacterial culture process and resulted in the large lab/manufacturing facilities in West Sacramento, now owned and operated by Siemens, and the largest biomedical employer in the region.

About MedStart

MedStart — a program of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA) — is a rapidly growing regional economic development collaborative that envisions a thriving medical device and medical technology industry in the Sacramento region and is a catalyst in making that happen. For information on the Claire Pomeroy Awards, Med Tech Showcase or MedStart, visit SARTA's Web site.

The award review committee consisted of Pomeroy; Emir Macari, dean, Sacramento State College of Engineering and Computer Science; Kyriacos Athanasiou, professor, UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering; Ekkehard Blanz, formerly of the Volcano Corporation; Christian Renaudin, The MarkeTech Group; John Mesic, chief medical officer, Sutter Health, Sac Sierra Region; and Cary Adams, Proximal Ventures, SARTA MedStart. The parameters this team sought in making their decisions included:

  • Brilliance or ingenuity in solving problems and designing solutions
  • Impact on the lives of patients
  • Size of the populations and markets affected
  • Impact on the institutions and processes of care delivery
  • Economic impact on the health-care system

“Claire Pomeroy is passionate about the role of UC Davis and the Sacramento region in transforming medicine through technology, and every day she inspires others to strive for excellence in innovation. That’s why this award is named after her, to magnify that passion and inspiration, to touch as many people as possible,” said Cary Adams, chair of MedStart.

Med Tech Showcase photos courtesy of Tia Gemmell

Thursday, May 6, 2010

UC Davis Center for Equine Health Receives $3 Million Endowment

UC Davis Center for Equine Health Receives $3 Million Endowment

Article # 16308
The William and Inez Mabie Family Foundation has pledged $3 million to support the Center for Equine Health (CEH) to continue its operational, educational, and research efforts to benefit horses. The CEH is part of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis.
The Mabie endowment will ensure the permanence of the CEH and allow it to continue its research and educational programs in equine medical science.
The endowment was offered in the form of a challenge grant, whereby an additional $1.8 million must be raised within six years to create a matching endowed directorship position. The requested "Directors Endowment" is a call to the equine industry from the Mabie Foundation to provide the necessary funding to recruit exemplary future leaders of the Center.
"The Mabie endowment is an invaluable gift to the School of Veterinary Medicine," said Dr. Gregory Ferraro, DVM, director of the CEH. "It will allow the Center and our equine faculty to improve the health, performance, and welfare of horses in perpetuity. Their gift, combined with the fulfillment of the proposed Directorship Endowment, will position UC Davis permanently as an international leader in equine medical research and education."
People or organizations interested in meeting the Mabie Foundation’s challenge by contributing to the CEH Directorship Endowment campaign should contact Ferraro at
AAEP Media Partner

Cal Maritime Academy cadets embark on training voyage

Times-Herald staff report
Posted: 05/06/2010 01:01:32 AM PDT

Nearly 260 cadets from California Maritime Academy in Vallejo are heading to Korea, Japan, Guam and Saipan on their two-month training voyage.

The school's 500-foot training vessel, Golden Bear, is serving as their floating classroom. Under the supervision of nearly 50 faculty and staff, students operate and maintain all aspects of the vessel.

This year's voyage began this week with a day of training exercises in the San Francisco Bay. With students at the helm, the ship visited the ports of Richmond and Oakland; students also did maneuvering and anchoring exercises off Treasure Island before docking in San Francisco. The ship left San Francisco's Pier 27 Monday morning.

At Busan, Korea, some students majoring in international business and global and marine affairs will go ashore to learn more about the history, culture and commercial business operations of Korea and Japan. They will rejoin the others when Golden Bear makes her second port of call in Kobe, Japan.

CMA spokesman Doug Webster said the ashore and port visits are part of Cal-Maritime's efforts to expose students to global marine affairs. "We want to expose students to the global community and their role in it," he said.

Every Cal-Maritime student sails on at least one training voyage, and those seeking careers in the maritime industry must complete at least two tours.

This year's trip also include dropping off donations at a Korean orphanage. The campus-based Kiwanis Club collects money and supplies during each year.

For details about the cruise and to follow the Golden Bear's voyage online, go to and click on the link for "Follow the Voyage 2010."

Touro career fair introduces teens to medical fields

By Sarah Rohrs
Posted: 05/06/2010 01:01:07 AM PDT

Nursing and medicine is on the horizon for Jesse Bethel High School junior Kirandeep Kaur, who found lots of information and a world of possibilities Wednesday during a Touro University career fair.

Scores of local high school students got the basics about a dozen medical fields they might want to pursue, including information on courses they need to focus on now, and how many years of college they will need.

A leg injury while playing soccer and the physical therapy that followed inspired another Jesse Bethel junior, Tiffany Norwood, to choose medicine to study after graduation.

"This is good because a lot of students are not familiar with Touro," Hogan High School counselor Dwayne Jones said. "There's a lot of careers out Tiffany Norwood and Jade Harris, center, both from Bethel High School, get a close look at a prosthetic arm as Mark Turner works the hand controls during a job fair for careers in public health at Touro University on Wednesday.

Those choosing health and medical fields likely will find good jobs as some of the fastest-growing careers in Solano County are in health care, according to Touro literature given to teens.

Numerous Touro students helped out with the fair, and high school students from Hogan, Jesse Bethel, MIT Academy and Liberty High School in Benicia attended.

In interactive displays teens learned how to build casts for prosthetic arms and legs, take blood pressure, and cast ear mold impressions for hearing aids. They also were shown how to diagnose an epidemic outbreak and replace splints and wraps.

Mare Island Technology senior Deton Burton closely studied an interactive display on paramedic services and emergency care, a field he said he hopes to pursue.

Physician Assistant Program Analyst Julie Chaples said one event goal was to encourage minorities to choose health care because these groups tend to be underrepresented in numerous medical fields.

Second year Masters of Public Health student Megan Christophersen said she hoped the fair gave teens ideas about how to improve family and community health.

Another student Natalia Dafaeeboini said she would like local youth to take advantage of Touro University being in their own town, and consider visiting and even enrolling there in its various master's degree programs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Solano County pumps cash into fairgrounds revamp project

County pumps cash into fairgrounds revamp project

Solano County supervisors on Tuesday approved agreements and fees totaling $1.2 million to keep the county fairgrounds redevelopment project moving along. It's the latest step in the county's effort to transform its aging, 149-acre fairgrounds in Vallejo into a year-round, regional attraction. A vision previously approved by the county and Vallejo calls for shops and restaurants in a Main Street-style setting, a sports arena, a park along a restored creek, a 10,000-square-foot exposition hall and other features, along with new facilities for the annual fair.

The new agreements hire Brooks Street consultants to manage the project and SWA consultants to create a specific plan. The county will also pay fees to Vallejo for costs associated with processing the various, needed entitlements. Money comes from $4.4 million in loans that the board previously made to the project from General Fund savings. A successful project would repay the loans. The county has already spent $1.3 million developing the initial vision. The Board of Supervisors approved the latest round of agreements by a 4-1 vote. Supervisors John Vasquez, Mike Reagan, Linda Seifert and Jim Spering voted 'yes' and Supervisor Barbara Kondylis -- who represents most of Vallejo -- voted 'no.' 'I think we need to invest in future revenue sources,' Spering said. Kondylis said child welfare, the Sheriff's Office and other county programs have seen reductions….

The vision for the fairgrounds approved by the board in June 2009 included a general map and conceptual drawings, but not details. Deputy County Counsel Bernadette Curry said the specific plan will put 'meat on the bones.' Solano County normally wouldn't have to get approvals from Vallejo for work done on county property, even county property within Vallejo city limits. But Curry noted that the fairgrounds plan calls for private development. Plus, the two agencies are working together. The Board of Supervisors will have more fairgrounds agreements coming before it. Curry said a contract to do the environmental impact report could come for a vote in June or July. Also Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors set June 28 as the day to start hearings for the 2010-11 budget. Supervisors heard a report that the General Fund structural deficit has been cut from $18 million a few months ago to $5.5 million. However, it is expected to be $16 million or more for the fiscal year beginning July 1 unless further cuts are made or more revenue found.

Vallejo's leaders say city must live within its means

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen / Times-Herald
Posted: 05/01/2010 01:01:19 AM PDT

Acknowledging nearly unprecedented challenges facing the city and the state, speakers at Vallejo's annual Legislative Day event Friday nevertheless identified what few bright spots are visible in the area's dark economic landscape.

Mayor Osby Davis said there will be 20 fewer cops, one less fire station and reduced services in many of the city's departments until revenues increase and services can be restored. City leaders must adjust services based on what the city can afford, instead of searching for ways to raise the money to pay for existing levels of service, he said.

Despite dealing with a budget $20 million less than a couple of years ago, the city does have $65 million in revenues, and as long as it "lives within its means," will survive, he said. Davis admonished Vallejoans not to allow the city's current situation to define it.

"This is a circumstance we're going through and this is not how this story ends," he said. "There is reason for hope. There are opportunities all around -- the waterfront, I-80, the Fairgrounds -- all have potential for making our city what we want it to be."

Binding arbitration must go, he said, so the largest portion of the city's expenditures -- salaries -- is in city leaders' hands and rational budget planning can occur, he said. He expressed support for Measure A which eliminates binding arbitration from the city's union bargaining equation.

Davis also said that without passing a one-cent sales tax "we won't make it. A half-cent (sales tax) will maintain what we have and one cent will pull us out of where we are."

Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes said revenues are down and costs are up and Vallejo residents have to acknowledge a new reality.

"Things will never be as they were, but we will smile again. I have no doubt about that," she said.
Gomes said recovery will require avoiding quick fixes and finding sustainable, long-term solutions to problems. She echoed Davis' supporting of Measure A, calling its passage critical.

Not allowing the state to raid local coffers to pay its bills is also critical, Gomes and other speakers said.

Gomes also said reinventing the city's economic development department is essential, so potential economic drivers can be effectively pursued.

Assemblywoman Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) recounted the past year from the state budget committee perspective, describing the battle to rescue California after losing a quarter of its revenues practically overnight.

"We lost $40 billion in the first half of 2009," Evans said. "We were in pretty dire straits and it was pretty chaotic. We were literally facing insolvency and (staff members) were actually exploring if or how the state could declare bankruptcy."

It evidently can't, she said.

Ultimately, $60 billion in solutions, including tax increases, widespread cuts, furloughs and other measures, were found, Evans said. This year, the state is in a healthier position, but "is not out of the woods yet," she said.

Evans advocated changing the super majority requirement for passing a state budget, saying a simple majority works for 47 other states and the federal government.

"Keeping our eyes on the good things happening in our cities is important in dismal times like these," she said. "We're Californians, and we'll get through this and be better for it."

Davis echoed this and got a standing ovation when he said, "I couldn't get up in the morning believing I'm mayor of a city with no hope. We can and already are overcoming our circumstances. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we're getting closer to it. It's only a matter of time."

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

Suisun Bay mothball fleet losing another ship in recycling effort

Seventh vessel heads out of Suisun Bay today for cleaning, recycling
Times-Herald staff report
Posted: 05/05/2010 01:03:32 AM PDT

BENICIA -- The Suisun Bay mothball fleet is scheduled to lose another ship early this morning.

The General John Pope will be transported out of the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet north of Benicia about 7:30 a.m. today.

This is the seventh vessel to be transported out of the mothball fleet for cleaning and recycling.

The World War II-era ship, a P2 "General" class type troop ship, was built in 1943, and was operated by the U.S. Navy during the war before it was transferred to the U.S. Army and given its current name.

The ship later served in the Korean and Vietnam wars as a civilian-manned military sea transportation service vessel until it was placed in the mothball fleet in 1970.

The vessel will have its loose paint and other exterior "marine growth" removed at a ship repair facility in San Francisco prior to departure for Texas where it will be recycled.

Future vessels to be removed from the fleet include the following -- the Gettysburg, a liquid bulk tanker, formerly the Exxon Gettysburg, on May 21; and the Taluga, formerly the USS Taluga (AO-62), a Navy fleet oiler, on July 1.

The ships, moving steadily out since October, are among the more than 50 obsolete vessels in the fleet scheduled for removal.