City manager’s update from the week of June 1

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First, in the last update there was an omission in recognizing a major contributor to the City Park Playground Build and that is the Mariani Nut Company Foundation who was a top donor to the project. Without question, Mariani Nut is a major contributor to our community in many ways. They were a major donor to the first playground build in 1989 and their generosity was one of the key elements to spearheading the 2017 build. They are a major benefactor to the Winters community through grants and scholarships to graduates from Winters High School. From a corporate generosity standpoint, they are a model in Winters!

Lots of other stuff this week:

  • City Council Meeting has a very full consent calendar with City Wide Assessment District, Weed Abatement, Street Closure for the July 3rdparty, a Proclamation for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Environmental Monitoring Services for the Elderberry Conservation Easement, the Habitat Conservation Plan and the City’s Appropriation Limit.
  • City Staff met with representatives of the Bellvue North Group, who own 400+ acres in the north part of the City and our General Plan area. Overall, a really good meeting regarding the area.
  • The Downtown Hotel is looking up! We are in full inspection on the project and so far, so good.
  • The Winters Police Department will now be carrying Nalaxone in all of our Police vehicles to help potential overdoses of persons with overdoses.
  • Slow down on Railroad Avenue both coming into town and out. The speed limits have been adjusted and Police will begin enforcement.
  • Staff is working to address issues regarding vandalism in the City Park Restrooms. The reality is people do some pretty awful things in public restrooms which children and other visitors are being subjected to when they visit the park. It’s a persistent issue which is probably one of the most frustrating we deal with at the City. For people who see issues in the restrooms, before putting pictures up on social media and complaining, give City Hall a call so we can get someone out there to address the issue.
  • A little insight into our public restrooms! We expect that the restrooms (City and Rotary Parks) will be vandalized every day! Also, we do not lock the restrooms over night, because if they are locked, people will ultimately relieve themselves elsewhere in the park, most likely directly outside the restroom or in areas where children play. We have a professional company do a sanitizing clean three days and our staff cleans them on the weekends. There are two restrooms a side and we keep one locked each day and one open so 7 days a week we start with a clean restroom. Unfortunately, we have no power over when people will do disgusting things and it never fails that it is when a bunch of parents and children are on their way to the park. Like I said, if you see something, give us a call.

Finally, being the City Manager of a small town involves some highs and lows. In less than a 24 hour period this week I got to experience both in very dramatic ways.

On Memorial Day, I attended the services held at the Winters Cemetery which was sponsored by the Winters Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Cemetery District. It was our hometown at its best, with the Boy Scouts conducting a flag ceremony, the Brownies and Girl Scouts  doing the flag salute and the Star Spangled Banner.

Mayor Wade Cowen gave an incredible speech on the meaning and history of Memorial Day and the day was culminated with the ceremonial wreath laying by Kimi Kato, the widow of Winters resident Pete Kato who went from a Japanese Internment Camp to a part of the most decorated division in the United States Military in World War II. Music was provided by ARC Guitar owner Al Calderon. The day was a little windy, but one of the most patriotic and beautiful ceremonies I have ever experienced. It never amazes me how folks coming together in our town can top anything you may see at any of the major events anywhere. It was just beautiful!

On the following Tuesday morning, I received notice from our Police Department that Robert Duvall, our Police Chaplain had been dispatched to give a death notification due to an auto accident. The name was Julia Millon. I almost fell down!

Julia was a Winter High Valedictorian in 2008 and was a rising star with the Winters Express as the associate editor. I had considerable interaction with Julia in her coverage of the City and she had recently interviewed us about the demise of our redevelopment agency. She was bright, articulate and someone who certainly was a star in our community.

The thought of her passing was an absolute tragedy. All you can say about potential, future and loss can be attributed to her sudden death. Without question, she will be missed by many and her friends. We at City Hall have been especially sad!

Being a small town City Manager is an absolute blessing but the times when you are privy to bad news is the absolute worst. You get to know so many people, their families, kids, co-workers and the people. You lose a lot because the small town brings us all together and when one is taken, it’s a time of sadness.

I count my blessings for the times we all come together as well as the times where we mourn.


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