Turlock’s 2009… This year will be remembered in many different ways depending on who you are, what your priorities are, what your interests are, and what your passions are.
For the most part, TurlockCityNews.com will make note of memorable decisions and actions made by our government leaders, community leaders, and/or major organizations. These actions affect us all whether we know about them or even care to.
Most of Turlock was introduced to the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury in 2009 and have heard about possible investigations all year. Turlock has also seen recommendations from the California Fair Political Practices Commissions in regards to election and conflict of interest laws. Turlock has also seen a few lawsuits concerning our government organizations.
Turlock has also seen stories reported on TurlockCityNews.com that have received statewide and national exposure such as when Walnut Elementary School won a statewide Health Department H1N1 PSA video contest or it was announced our local Kristin Gustafson won the national Maxim magazine Hometown Hotties Contest. Both have been recognized and mentioned in the media including television. Turlock also made national news when it was ranked as a top 10 Smarter Cities report.
In 2009, Turlock continued to support community events and celebration more people came out to the Stanislaus County Fair, Turlock Downtown 4th of July Celebration (including parade), Turlock Downtown Festival of Lights Christmas Tree lighting, and the Turlock Downtown Christmas Parade. This year our traditional events did see some changes though. The Fantastic 4th of July Fireworks Celebration held at CSU Stanislaus was cancelled but moved to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds last minute. The Stanislaus County Fair also held its last Fair on our traditional dates as the California State Fair’s schedule change conflicted with our fair time, so it will be earlier in July in 2010.
For most of 2009, Turlock has been discussing our Updated General Plan process and other development issues. The General Plan update will continue to be an issue throughout 2010. A proposed north of Taylor Rd. golf course was stopped by resilient community and City opposition to preserve our northern city limit ag buffer. Our Turlock community saw a Turlock Downtown business incubator location and program begin, debated about whether to allow a piano bar open downtown, what kind of deal our City should make with fees charged to the local poker room, and if the City should fund the School District’s Joe Debely Stadium Track and Field Renovation project with City Redevelopment Agency tax funds. The stadium project funding has closed out our year as a lawsuit filed by citizens against the city claim it is illegal.
There are many other stories that may be insignificant to the rest of the region, state, or nation but they were at least notable to us such as how the Turlock High School Bulldog football team had a winless season or when the City had to chlorinate the water temporarily. Yes, chlorinated water would be a big deal to Turlock because we are known for having the best tasting unchlorinated water around and many people feared the chlorination would be permanent.
In the midst of widespread trends such as high unemployment and foreclosure numbers or concerns of H1N1, Turlock still continued to define itself as a strong independent city with certain characteristics supported by a majority of its citizens. Turlock faced activism and possible litigation as the Turlock City Council had to take a stand on saying a public prayer at City Hall and when they wanted to put the national motto “In God We Trust” on the Council Chamber wall. The Council or City has not suffered any legal ramifications as of yet for their decisions on these issues.
TurlockCityNews.com has taken pieces of some notable news that was reported in 2009. These reports are not all inclusive so if you have anything to add, please comment below the article.
On January 13, 2009, the Turlock City Council continued a December 9, 2008 public hearing to decide whether or not to grant an appeal of a Turlock City Planning Commission approved Conditional Use Permit for The Vintage Lounge piano bar.
The PCN Committee denied The Vintage Lounge’s Type 48 Liquor License but then the City Manager overturned the decision while taking into consideration owner Daniel Gray’s background along with the fact there is only one other Type 48 Liquor License in Turlock.
Councilman Ted Howze believed that allowing even one more Type 48 Liquor License was going against the long term vision of Turlock as he stated it is known that Turlock does not build bars but rather restaurants serving liquor.
If the Council was inclined to allow the piano bar to open, there were two focal points of concern: To allow one musician playing a single non-amplified instrument with light ambient music when a performer is not playing and whether or not to allow the piano bar to stay open until 1:00am on Friday and Saturdays versus the standard condition of 12:00 midnight seven days a week.
As Councilman Kurt Spycher noted that the owner has already invested money into a vacant Main St. location in a bad economy, he looked to allow the piano bar to open. Spycher was hesitant to extend the standard hours due to a possible flood of “me too” applicants in the near future which would impact police services.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson didn’t see the piano bar crowd being a big problem and even joking about them barely staying up until 1:00am.
Mayor John Lazar stepped down due to a conflict of interest as he is the property’s realtor.
The Council voted 3-1 to allow The Vintage Loung piano bar to open with one musician playing one non-amplified instrument and to close at 12:00 midnight seven days a week.
This decision would later bring a Civil Grand Jury investigation on Councilwoman Mary Jackson in regards to conflict of interest matters. Jackson was exonerated.
Turlock Mayor John Lazar and TID Director Rob Santos attended the Presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2009 when Barrack Obama became the 44th President of the Unites States of America at 12:00 noon.
Mayor Lazar has been involved in politics on many levels for quite some time now and is a US Mayor, so it is expected that he could and may attend this special event.
When Dr. Rob Santos, a local veterinarian at Monte Vista Small Animal Hospital, announced that he was going… Well, it was a little more of a surprise. Dr. Santos was elected to the Turlock Irrigation District Board of Directors on November 6, 2007 and has been on several other boards such as the Chatom School Board.
After writing some elected public officials, Dr. Santos received tickets through his Congressman George Radanovich.
TurlockCityNews.com received and published some accounts, along with pictures, of our fellow Turlockers’ experiences during this historic national event.
The Turlock City Council decided they needed to invest $35 million in a new Public Safety Facility that would be the new Turlock Police Station while housing Turlock Police and Fire administration.
The Turlock Planning Commission granted the Conditional Use Permit on January 15, 2009 at the Turlock Planning Commission Meeting. This will allow construction to begin on the City of Turlock’s Public Safety Facility to be located at North Broadway Avenue and West Olive Avenue, right next to the Carnegie Arts Center.
The plans for the 57,570 square foot, two story building has always taken into consideration the 1920s styled architecture of the soon-to-be renovated historic Carnegie Arts Center. The new building has a cohesive design related to the Carnegie and its planned renovation. There will be 250 parking spaces that may be used by daytime customers visiting the Public Safety Facility or may be used by Carnegie Arts Center event attendees.
The neighborhood has also been taken into consideration. The City of Turlock and architect Larry Wolff, Rancho Cucamonga based WLC Architects, decided to make the new facility two stories instead of three as to “fit” into the neighborhood better.
The longest single issue of discussion was concerning a 180 foot tall communications tower. There is really no debate whether Turlock needs one, where it can go, or how tall it can be. This is a mandatory item needed for the community’s safety and Homeland Security stipulations apply.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson filed a lawsuit on January 09, 2009 against a currently unknown suspect in regards to the illegal robo-calls that were meant to cripple her campaign for Turlock City Council.
Prior to the 2008 election, various citizens ofthe City ofTurlock received automated telephone calls, sometimes referred to as “robocalls,” which purported to be from Mary Jackson, but were not. The robocalls conveyed information which was inaccurate and improperly and maliciously represented Ms. Jackson’s position on various issues.
The Turlock City Council voted to fire Tim Kerr at about 11:30pm on January 13, 2009. The voting details remained unknown until after the January 13, 2009 Turlock City Council Meeting minutes were approved at January 27, 2009 Council Meeting.
The Turlock City Council voted 3-2 to fire the Turlock City Manager at the time, Tim Kerr. Vice Mayor Ted Howze, Council Members Kurt Spycher and Amy Bublak voted to fire Tim Kerr as the Turlock City Manager. Mayor John Lazar and Council Member Mary Jackson disagreed.
Tim Kerr said that he was put on a 30 day paid administrative leave and then the city would honor his contract and will receive a severance package worth nine months of salary and benefits.
During a January conference of the Western Fairs Association, the Stanislaus County Fair was honored at the organization’s annual awards banquet.
The Fair was recognized with 13 awards total, namely first place awards for its exceptional company picnic program as well as its community outreach program, Special Day for Special People. In addition, a photograph captured during the 2008 fair by Julie Rose from Mattos Newspapers also garnered a first place award in the “Give It Your Best Shot” (Agriculture or Exhibits) category. And a news photo captured by Modesto Bee photographer, Bart Ah You, brought back a first place award.
The Turlock Police Department reported on February 10, 2009 at the Council Meeting that they were very pleased to learn that their recent effort to increase public safety is paying off. The 2008 calendar year crime statistics shows that overall crime has been reduced by 9%. The largest reductions have been in the area of Burglary with a reduction of 21% and Assaults with a 13% drop. They are also encouraged to see the auto theft rate has dropped by 11% in the City of Turlock, as the central valley of California is known for its high rate of auto theft.
Since a 14 year old Dominic Rufo contacted David (DJ) Fransen to help get a BMX bike park in Turlock, 2 years passed. The Turlock City Council approved the bike park proposal with a 5-0 vote on February 24, 2009.
The bike park will open at 3:45pm and close at sun down on the traditional school day schedule. On holidays, weekends, and summer days, the park will be open from 8:00am to sun down.
Rules include wearing a helmet, no motorized vehicles, scooters, foot traffic, bringing in additional obstacles, and more. Violations will come with fines of $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for the third offense.
The bike park will be funded with $15,000 from a park improvement fund (non General Fund) and $10,000 in private donations to be fundraised.
Residents of Turlock got a taste of water that most cities experience, although it was only temporary.
On Friday, February 27th, 2009, the City started chlorinating its drinking water because routine monitoring had confirmed the presence of coliform bacteria in some parts of the water system. City staff said that were pleased to report that the problem has been corrected and, as of Thursday, March 5, 2009, we are no longer chlorinating the water system. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
The Stanislaus County Planning Commission approved a Turlock area golf driving range on March 19th.
A golf driving range was proposed for a north east Taylor Road + Golden State Blvd location. The property is located on the north side of Taylor Road and east of Golden State Blvd. The 39 acre property currently has almond trees on the property with agricultural land directly surrounding it and is located in the Stanislaus County jurisdiction. The Turlock City Limit stops at the south side of Taylor Road.
The Stanislaus Planning staff reported that the property’s soil was classified prime agricultural land. The classification of soil comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Staff also stated that the driving range used by the public would restrict the neighboring farms from spraying of pesticides and fertilizers. There was also concern that the rezoning would set precedent for more development in the county jurisdiction just north of the City of Turlock’s city limits.
The area between Taylor Road and Keyes Road was agreed 22 years ago to be a green belt urban buffer between Turlock and Keyes. The area has been a no build area except for along Highway 99.
The Stanislaus County Planning Commission approved the golf driving range in March 2009 where it would be a direct neighbor to adjacent farms.
Teri Nascimento, a neighboring farm owner, filed an appeal quickly after. Concerns with conflict between development and farming were major issues.
City of Turlock officials and staff also had issues with the lack of consideration for the City’s issues. Mayor John Lazar got the approval of his Council colleagues to engage in discussion with Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors about a formal agreement between the county and the city. Opening the door to future growth in the green belt area and holding Taylor Road as a northern border were concerns of the City of Turlock.
On May 19, 2009, Turlock’s representative Vito Chiesa and two other Supervisors (Jeff Grover and Jim DeMartini) made up their mind in favor of preserving the green belt as they voted down the golf driving range by approving the appeal.
The California State University Board of Trustees approved in April 2009 an update of the California State University, Stanislaus Campus Physical Master Plan that will serve as a guide for development to an eventual enrollment of 12,000 students while preserving the open green space and mature landscaping that makes CSU Stanislaus a uniquely beautiful campus.
The final approved environmental impact report and campus master plan update will steer CSU Stanislaus growth and expansion over the next 10 to 15 years to accommodate the University’s eventual capacity enrollment of 12,000 full-time students by 2027. It is the first major update for the master plan since 1968, three years after the current campus opened.
“The goals of this update were to incorporate needed changes while maintaining the unique architectural character of the campus,” CSU Stanislaus President Dr. Hamid Shirvani said. “A strong emphasis has been placed on balancing the impact of growth with overall architectural character so that the sense of place and academic context of our beautiful campus will be maintained.”
On March 27, 2009 the southwest ballfield at the Turlock Regional Sports Complex was named and dedicated the Abe Rojas Ballfield.
The dedication specifically mentioned his tenure at the City of Turlock for 24 years and the Pedretti Sports Complex project that took from 1977 to 1982 to complete.
On Nov 27, 2007 the Turlock City Council unanimously approved a resolution to approve the official designation of the southwest ballfield at the Turlock Regional Sports Complex as Abe Rojas Ballfield.
The busy intersection that leads to Wal-Mart and across a major railroad crossing was a construction project since around August of 2007.
The entire Tuolumne and Golden State intersection was totally closed and blocked off. Special detour routes were made to get to destinations along Golden State such as the Assyrian American Civic Club.
Golden State Blvd. was opened back up within about 6 months, as was Tuolumne on the east side of Golden State. The west side of Tuolumne where it crossed over the railroad tracks remained closed until April 15, 2009 when it was reopened.
Based on community input and research, a draft of the vision statement and guiding principles were presented in April of 2009 and unanimously approved the City Council.
General Plan Vision Statement:
Turlock will grow sensibly and compactly, maintaining its small-town feel, while enhancing quality of life, meeting housing needs, and providing high quality jobs and recreation opportunities for its diverse population.
Some of the guiding principles were taken from 2002 Updated General Plan and modified for this Updated General Plan. (Crossed out was from the last General Plan and not relative anymore. Underlined statements are new principles or revisions specifically for our current General Plan Update. The regular typed statements have been carried over from the last General Plan).
1) Establish limits to urban growth that will maintain Turlock as a freestanding city surrounded by productive agricultural land.
2) Maintain an economically and socially diverse population by promoting a greater variety of housing types citywide and a localized mix of housing types in some areas
3) Provide commercial and industrial sites consistent with Turlock’s growth. Attract new business to Turlock to create well-paying jobs and maintain a good jobs/housing balance.
4) Improve the local and regional circulation system to serve businesses and new residential development.
5) Implement sustainable development and green building principles in City projects and new development projects. Foster development that encourages alternatives to auto use, especially for non-commute trips.
6) Revitalize and enhance older areas of Turlock. Create an economic and social balance among different city sectors. Enhance County islands within the City limits, and annex them to the City if feasible.
7) Manage growth using the Master Planning process to implement General Plan policies and enhance Turlock’s quality of life.
8) Provide a wide variety of recreation and cultural activities for all ages.
The Turlock City Council agreed to move forward with the largest capital works project the city has ever done by approving participation in the development of the Surface Water Project. A Joint Powers Authority partnership has been formed between Turlock, Hughson, Ceres, and Modesto.
The plant would make TID provided river water to be drinking water. Turlock gets all of the city’s drinking water from wells. Turlock would receive an estimated 15 million gallons of water a day from the project.
TID has already done about $8 million of work on the project and have gone from proposing to own and operate the plant to just providing the raw water. Cities are responsible for repayment of most of that $8 million. The project is estimated at $197 million, Turlock’s 33percent portion is estimated at around $65 million.
User fees will be impacted to help fund the project.
A report filed with the Turlock Police Department on April 23, 2009 alleges that the former Turlock Youth Football President and Treasurer embezzled money from the organization.
The names of the suspects were not released but they are no longer with the organization. The Turlock Police are conducting a felony investigation and can not discuss details about the case as it is an ongoing investigation.
At the May 5, 2009 TUSD Board Meeting, Trustees approved an agreement to cut classified workers’ salaries and benefits, saving $330,000 and 10 jobs.
The California School Employees Association accepted a 3 percent cut just as the teacher, administrators, and other employee bargaining groups accepted last month.
The deal the teachers and other groups accepted saved the TUSD about $2 million and allowed the district to not follow through with pink slip cuts.
The members of the CSEA bargaining group total around 550 and include custodians, campus supervisors, and bus drivers.
On May 12, 2009, the California State Student Association (CSSA) is honored Dr. Hamid Shirvani, President of California State University, Stanislaus, as the 2009 Robert C. Maxson CSU President of the Year. Shirvani received the same recognition in 2007, and is one of only two presidents in the history of the California State University system to be named President of the Year more than once. The award is being presented at a ceremony in Long Beach.
“I am honored – and a bit speechless – to be receiving this wonderful award for a second time,” Shirvani said. “It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with the exceptional students here at California State University, Stanislaus and throughout the CSU. I am truly blessed.”
Citing a lack of funding and sponsors, California State University, Stanislaus announced on April 29, 2009 that this year’s Fantastic Fourth celebration has been canceled due to the difficult economic times. The annual event has been a Fourth of July tradition for the past 24 years and has attracted over 200,000 people to the University campus.
The Stanislaus County Fair Board voted to donate the fairgrounds for a fireworks show since the CSUS Fantastic Fourth Celebration has been cancelled.
After the bad news from university spokesperson Kristin Olsen that the $50,000 fireworks show would be cancelled due to budget constraints, Turlock Mayor John Lazar had said that Turlock will try to have something to continue the 20 plus year tradition.
The Turlock Chamber of Commerce decided to lead an effort to ensure that the Turlock community would have a community fireworks show.
After only about 5 days, a reported $22,000 in committed sponsorships were collected before even going to the Stanislaus County Fair Board.
The Turlock City Council eliminated nearly 40 positions throughout the organization Tuesday night, June 9, 2009. 23 people lost their jobs as Council made tough budget cut decisions.
Two of the most controversial cuts that were made included laying off the Chief Building Inspector, Mark Ellis, who has been with the City of Turlock for 20 years and Arts Facilitator Lisa McDermott.
The Building Department took the biggest hit of the city budget cuts as 8 people were laid off.
Builders and city staff question the city’s ability to provide services that won’t hinder the development community and economic development. People have also questioned the city’s liability for safety concerns after laying off the Chief Building Inspector. Councilwoman Mary Jackson had concerns that Turlock will gain a “terrible reputation” in the development industry throughout the region.
Turlock was ranked in the top 10 small cities category in Energy Production and Conservation (9) and Recycling (7) by the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Smarter Cities project.
Newly hired Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden has a contract with the City of Turlock to begin by July 1, 2009. Wasden believed he would be able to wrap things up as Modesto Chief of Police and begin sooner than July 1.
Roy Wasden has been seen at previous Council Meetings and “volunteering” around City Hall lately, but Wasden officially begins working as the Turlock City Manager today, June 19, 2009.
On May 26, 2009 the Turlock City Council chose Modesto Chief of Police Roy Wasden for the new Turlock City Manager position and voted to approve his 5 year contract at Wednesday’s Special Council Meeting.
Mayor John Lazar, Vice Mayor Ted Howze, and Kurt Spycher voted to approve Wasden’s contract. Councilwoman Mary Jackson vote in opposition. Councilwoman Amy Bublak, who worked under Wasden as a Modesto Police Officer, abstained.
The Council’s 3-1 vote approved a contract that includes an annual base salary of $202,296.00, $500/month car allowance, $100/month technology stipend (phone, computer, etc), an immediate 80 hours of sick leave and 160 hours of vacation, and provisions for a severance package totaling 9-12 months worth of pay.
In June, 2009, the Turlock City Council chose not to investigate a potential leak from one of their own on Tuesday night, but rather made a pledge that none of them would leak information again and that future incidents would be promptly investigated.
The possible investigation was discussed at the previous Council Meeting but was cut short by City Attorney Phaedra Norton since it was not on the agenda.
Despite media and a confidential memo prepared by Mayor Lazar, the Turlock City Council never mentioned an investigation on anyone specifically.
Mayor John Lazar and Vice Mayor Ted Howze were the major voices in the previous discussion. Both had extremely different points of views.
Mayor Lazar said “I don’t think we have any reason to continue or begin a new witch hunt,”
Howze stated that if the alleged violation of the Elected Officials Code of Conduct did occur, “it would very clearly rise to the level of criminal conduct.”
After having a couple weeks to think about it, a change of tone was led by Vice Mayor Howze.
The 2008-2009 Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury received a complaint against a Turlock City Council Member alleging a violation of conflict of interest laws and official misconduct.
Through interviews and document review, the Civil Grand Jury found that no financial nor common law conflicts of interest existed on the part of the Turlock City Council Member.
The Civil Grand Jury recommends that newly elected and appointed officials be given the written guidelines addressing Financial and Common Law Conflicts of Interest so they can make appropriate decisions for themselves, their constituents, and colleagues.
The Turlock City Council Member is an elected official for the City of Turlock. This Council Member, who is the subject of a complaint, was elected to this position in December 2008. Her current term will end 2012.
. A citizen complaint was filed with the Civil Grand Jury alleging that the Turlock City Council Member’s campaign manager was the attorney of record for the business, which constitutes misconduct and/or conflict of interest.
. The Turlock City Council Member voted on an issue in which she was alleged to have a conflict of interest.
Turlockers came out in thousands to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with a Patriotic Parade and Independence Celebration.
The now traditional Independence Day event has grown every year for the last three years. The first year the community desperately needed a hometown celebration due to the economic forced trend of staycations (people just staying home and relaxing or taking day trips instead of traveling). In 2008 the Turlock Centennial Celebration was incorporated into the Fourth of July parade and helped make the sophomore effort more successful. This year’s hugely successful event seemed to be a continued growth from the last two, while the economy has forced many other Fourth of July celebrations to be cancelled or downsized and that staycations are still a popular trend.
The Patriotic Parade went over their limit while incorporating about 75 entries (some multiple vehicle entries). Main Street was lined with packs of people sitting on the curb while some brought their own folding chairs and blankets. The 10:00am parade, led by Parade Marshall Tony Cabral, lasted about 45 minutes from start to finish. Elected officials such as Turlock Mayor John Lazar, Turlock City Councilman Kurt Spycher, Turlock Unified School District Board Members Tami Muniz and Timm LaVelle, and District 26th Assemblyman Bill Berryhill took part in the parade.
A 21-year-old Stanislaus County woman with pre-existing medical conditions, died on July 1. 2009 while hospitalized with severe pneumonia. “Tests later revealed that this was a complication of infection with the H1N1 virus,” said Stanislaus County Public Health Officer John Walker, M.D. She is the first person in Stanislaus County to die from the H1N1 virus.
Existing and new businesses began to be offered an incubator program provided by a partnership between the Downtown Economic Alliance (DEAL) and Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association (TDPOA) that started around August 2009.
The 300 E. Main Street building (corner of Main + Center) will be home to the business incubator. The building will include 11 office spaces, conference room, common use business information center, equipment office, and a reception counter. There are also 4 retail spaces proposed pending the City of Turlock’s final approval.
The business incubator would give existing and new businesses support while they strive to implement their plans of growth. Businesses have up to 24 months to get established, grow, and move out (hopefully to another Downtown location).
DEAL is just one way TDPOA is working to recruit businesses to the Downtown area. Since TDPOA decided to brand Turlock Downtown as a Bridal Shopping Destination, TDPOA has been working to relocate related businesses that have shown interest with incentives other retail districts can’t offer such as DEAL and discounted lease rates.
At a time when Stanislaus County is experiencing double-digit unemployment and has one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the country, people turned out in record numbers for the 98th Stanislaus County Fair.
Over 227,200 fair guests visited the Stanislaus County Fair during its 10-day run, distinguishing the 2009 fair as the second highest attended fair in a 15-year history. In addition to record-breaking attendance, the fair’s new Park ‘N Ride service also exceeded fair officials’ expectations, delivering 10,200 fair guests to its historic Arch Gate from free parking lots at CSU Stanislaus and Pitman High School.
California State University, Stanislaus held an official ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening for its new $16.1 million Student Recreation Complex, followed by a pair of soccer games on Friday, September 18, 2009.
The Complex stands out as a showpiece in the northeast corner of campus. The landmark of the Complex is the 18,500-square-foot Student Fitness Center which is architecturally impressive with its distinctive tower designed by Thomas Gordon Smith, a recognized international leader in contemporary developments of classical architecture. The Fitness Center, which opened to students on the first day of fall semester classes September 9, includes a workout room with new equipment, a multi-purpose gymnasium equipped with a wall scoreboard, group exercise aerobics studio, and combined restroom-shower rooms.
On September 22, 2009 the Turlock City Council voted unanimously to have a public prayer before the official start of the Turlock Council Meetings and adopted a prayer policy that invites representative from all congregations filed as a non-profit within the Turlock community.
The Turlock City Council also voted unanimously to have “In God We Trust” and “We The People” painted on the Council Chamber walls.
A packed Council Chamber and overflow viewing area witnessed the Turlock City Council’s decisions.
People spoke for and against this proposal also, mostly including the same people that spoke for and against holding prayer before the Council Meetings.
City Attorney Phaedra Norton provided many examples of court cases backing up the fact this was a government “motto” and would be appropriate in a government building or setting while not “pushing” religion.
Input from the RDA Board and community helped staff prepare for the RDA project list to be approved by Council at the scheduled November 10, 2009 public hearing for the Turlock RDA.
The RDA project list is included in the state mandated Five-year Implementation and Housing Production Plan that Turlock must adopt and submit by December 31, 2009.
A subcommittee including Vice Mayor Ted Howze and Councilwoman Amy Bublak was created to oversee RDA expenditures.
Here are all the projects that will make up the new RDA Projects list once Council votes to adopt it officially on November 10, 2009.
Construction of Public Safety Facility – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
(Majority likely to be funded from new bond proceeds)
Infrastructure Improvements in the Westside Industrial Area – In Redevelopment Area, Portions
Columbia Pool and Park Improvements – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
Columbia Park Water Feature – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
Carnegie Rebuild – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
Downtown Property Acquisition and Parking – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
Joe Debely Field Improvements – In Redevelopment Area, No
Downtown Property Acquisition – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
Gateway Improvements – In Redevelopment Area, Portions
Renovations to War Memorial Building – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
Renovations to Existing Fire Station #2 – In Redevelopment Area, No
Renovations to Police/Fire Training Facility – In Redevelopment Area, No
Development of a Downtown Square @ Main/Broadway – In Redevelopment Area, Yes
Improvements to Pedretti Park – In Redevelopment Area, No
Improvements to Regional Sports Complex – In Redevelopment Area, No
Improvements to Fulkerth Interchange – In Redevelopment Area, No
Westside Bike & Skate Park
Recreation Center (Aquatics, Bowling, Teen Center, Gym, etc)
Golf + Golden State Intersection
The Turlock Bulldogs ended the football season on November 13, 2009 with a winless record of 0-6 CCC and 0-10 overall as Atwater beat Turlock 41-10
This 2009 team is only the second team in Turlock High School’s history to go winless. The first time was all the way back in 1931.
The Turlock City Council voted to approve the BMX Bike Park on February 24, 2009 with the contingency that construction would not begin until the community raised $10,000 of the estimated $25,000 cost of the park.
On October 7, 2009, the community bike park group hit their $10,000 fundraising goal set by City Council to begin the construction of Turlock BMX Bike Park located at the Walnut + Christoffersen storm basin.
The construction of the bike park has always been planned around volunteer work days, including the forming of the dirt jumps and obstacles by the bicycle riders themselves.
Construction began shortly after the fundraised goal was met, while opening on December 19, 2009.
The opening has been reported as premature and unsafe as the dirt jumps were not finished and according the bike riders’ plans.
The Dedication of Brad Bates Park and Curt Andre Park took place October 9, 2009 later in the morning at the Turlock Regional Sports Complex amphitheatre.
Brad Bates Park is located to the west of the Turlock Regional Sport Complex and Curt Andre Park is located to the east of the Turlock Regional Sports Complex.
Mayor John Lazar noted that another former Mayor of Turlock, Dale Pinkney, will have a park dedication ceremony later this month. Lazar unofficially proclaimed that this month is “Former Mayor of Turlock Month.”
On October 19, 2009, the Stanislaus County Fair Board of Directors was forced to accept two major changes to the traditional Stanislaus County Fair held in Turlock.
At a Monday night closed session meeting with his Board of Directors, Leo announced his retirement effective December 30, 2009.
The Fair Board was faced with the decision to change the date because the state fair moved their August fair to July 2010, overlapping with Turlock’s traditional late July fair. The state fair’s change created scheduling conflicts for some exhibitors, concessionaires, entertainers and even the carnival. Turlock’s carnival operator, Butler Amusements, also provides rides for the state fair. The Stanislaus County Fair will arrive a little earlier than in the past, with a mid-July fair planned for July 16 – 25, 2010.
Ivan Lowe was recognized as one of Turlock’s longest living Turlock natives before he passed away on Friday, October 23, 2009. Ivan H. Lowe was a past Turlock Historical Society Board Member for several years and participated in many 2008 Turlock Centennial events.
When the TID Board of Directors voted to appoint someone to fill the vacant Division 1 Director seat left by the death of Phil Short, the Board also voted that an Advisory Committee comprised of TID Board President Charles Fernandes and Director Rob Santos would go through the applications and choose a recommendation (or recommendations) for the entire Board to consider in public at the Board Meeting on November 3, 2009 at 9:00am.
Twelve people turned in TID Director Appointment applications by the deadline of October 28, 2009 at 5:00pm. Eleven people qualified. One applicant did not live in the Division 1 area.
With an unprecedented amount of interest in the Turlock Irrigation District and Board of Director positions, the TID Board decided to appoint rather than call for a special election to fill the Board vacancy left by the recent death of Director Phil Short.
An Advisory Committee comprised of TID Board President Charles Fernandes and Director Rob Santos was sent with the duty of sifting through the eleven applicants who submitted resumes and information with the purpose of making recommendations that the entire TID Board would consider.
The Advisory Committee chose to recommend Mike Brem, John Eisenhut, and Michael Frantz to the Board.
Santos went on to make the nomination to appoint Michael Frantz. Mike Berryhill made the second, leading to a unanimous vote to appoint Michael Frantz to the TID Board.
On November 3, 2009 TUSD Trustee Elects were unofficially announced as Bob Weaver, Josh Bernard, and Lori Crivelli. All three were incumbent challengers.
TID Director Elects have been reported as Division 5 Ron Macedo and Joe Alamo.
In November it was reported that former Turlock City Manager Tim Kerr filed a lawsuit against the City of Turlock as a result from a claim denied by the City.
After Kerr’s January 13, 2009 termination and April 2, 2009 claim to the City of Turlock, Kerr has not been able to get what he feels is owed to him according to his employment contract.
The City of Turlock has hired a lawyer who is expected to respond to the lawsuit soon.
Tim Kerr’s lawsuit is seeking $37,337.19 as a retirement payment he feels is still owed to him and legal costs while there is not a total amount listed.
Former Turlock City Manager Tim Kerr was fired on January 13, 2009 by a 3-2 council vote in a close session meeting. No official reported reason was ever given for Kerr’s firing. Kerr was put on paid administrative for 30 days.
City staff requested Council’s authorization to proceed with property owner notification that the City Council will be holding a public hearing to consider amending user fees as a result of the implementation of mandatory water metering and establishing a hearing date of March 9, 2010.
State of California mandates require that water meter rates be implemented by January 2010 with the provision of a one year grace period to educate the customers on what their water bill may be.
The Turlock City Council heard possible rate options pertaining to billing by metered water use and ranged from single-family home averages of $25.54 per month to step increases reaching $41.68 per month by 2014-15. The current average water bill is a flat rate of $31.50.
Council also heard a proposal to help fund a regional surface water plant. The joint effort would include Turlock, Modesto, Ceres, and Hughson while Turlock’s share would be $85 million. Turlock’s water bills could go up to $100 per month (or more).
Both rate proposals were tabled as staff was requested by Council for more data and account balances.
Since the December 1st TID Board Meeting was cancelled, the November 24, 2009 TID Board Meeting was also Division 3 Director Michael Berryhill and Division 5 Director Randy Fiorini’s last meeting. Both decided not to run for reelection.
The recently appointed TID Division 1 Director Michael Frantz was seated on November 17, 2009.
The newly elected TID Directors Joe Alamo (Division 3) and Ron Macedo (Division 5) will be seated on December 8, 2009.
On November 24, 2009 Vice Mayor Ted Howze, Councilman Kurt Spycher, and Councilwoman Amy Bublak gave their approval toward the 3-1 vote to fund $2.8 million of the Joe Debely Stadium renovation project with Redevelopment Agency funds.
Mayor John Lazar stepped down from voting as he owns a nearby property and would have had a conflict of interest.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson was the only opposing vote and stated that the she didn’t believe the stadium renovation project met the requirements needed to spend RDA funds on it while stating that there were other worthy projects that did.
The approximate eight months of public discussion has brought an overwhelming majority of opposition to using city Redevelopment funds for the project.
Most of the opposition has stated that they feel RDA funds would be used inappropriately or even illegally if spent on the stadium renovation.
RDA funds are supposed to be spent to benefit the immediate neighborhood, eliminate blight, create jobs, and/or help provide affordable housing.
City Attorney Phaedra Norton stated that spending RDA funds on the Joe Debely Stadium was within RDA law as the project would eliminate blight according to RDA law. An outside legal opinion and the California Redevelopment Association both also agree that the spending of RDA funds on the stadium renovation would be legal.
The four alternatives presented in this booklet focus on two of the potential growth areas – the Southeast and Northwest areas. The Northeast and Southwest areas have not been included in any of these concept alternatives. The reason for this is two-fold. First, to focus the extension of urban infrastructure into more compact residential neighborhoods, thereby reducing the cost of development to the City, developers and the public. Second, to reduce environmental impacts on prime farmland and air quality.
Each alternative is designed to meet a future housing growth target of approximately 15,000 units. Infill development is assumed in each alternative. Each alternative assumes more compact development than has historically occurred in the City of Turlock to reduce the consumption of prime farmland, reduce emissions, and reduce the infrastructure and service costs associated with low density development.
1) Do these four alternatives cover the range of growth scenarios that the Commission would like to study further? Or are there other areas of potential growth that the Commission wants to investigate?
2) Is the Planning Commission comfortable with the type of development proposed as measured in terms of neighborhood compactness? Or would the Commission like to see more or less compact neighborhood types?
Council heard a presentation of the same four alternatives on December 8, 2009 and agreed that they covered potential growth scenarios to plan for.
The City of Turlock has renamed Cimmaron Park to Dale Pinkney Park, honoring the former Mayor of Turlock Mr. Dale Pinkney.
Mayor John Lazar and Assemblyman Bill Berryhill attended the naming ceremony of Dale Pinkney Park where they recognized the former Mayor of Turlock for his dedication to the community.
Around 35 people were in attendance at the 10am ceremony on December 4, 2009.
Dale Pinkney Park is a neighborhood serving park located in the northeast portion of Turlock on Cherry Blossom and Arthur Mace Drive.
On September 8, 2009 Councilman Kurt Spycher requested a Turlock City Council discussion of painting “In God We Trust” on a wall in the Council Chamber at City Hall.
This followed after the Turlock City Council received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation requesting that the Turlock Council stop scheduling invocations during the Council Meetings and that if they are given, must be nonsectarian.
Councilman Spycher offered to pay for the “In God We Trust” painting.
On September 22, 2009 the Turlock City Council voted unanimously to have “In God We Trust” and “We The People” painted on the Council Chamber walls.
Councilman Kurt Spycher said that he would take care of the financing of painting “In God We Trust” and Vice Mayor Ted Howze said that he would pay for “We The People” while Councilwoman Mary Jackson said she would fundraise the money to incorporate murals on the wall.
On December 8, 2009 the subcommittee comprised of Mayor Lazar and Councilman Spycher brought back a proposal of putting “In God We Trust” in raised letters on the south wall behind the Council’s seating and that Councilman Spycher would pay for it.
Instead of painting “We The People” on another wall as Howze offered to pay for, an alternative of putting a plaque like piece of art on the front of the Council Chamber lectern displaying the Preamble to the United States Constitution was presented.
After the 12 minute discussion, while nearly 9 minutes was conversation over legal concerns, the Turlock City Council unanimously approved the proposed artistic displays of “In God We Trust” and the Constitution Preamble in the Council Chambers at City Hall on December 8, 2009.
3,000 people strolled through Turlock’s historic downtown enjoying holiday festivities including the lighting of Turlock Downtown’s Christmas tree in Central Park the day after Thanksgiving.
Despite the off and on rain, many came out to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season.
Starting around 4:30pm, people began shopping downtown stores, taking the free horse and carriage rides, getting their picture taken with Santa, browsing street vendors, and eating at the downtown restaurants.
Every since the Turlock Christmas Parade moved from the long time traditional Saturday mornings, thousands more people have come out for the Friday night Lights on Parade.
Last year there was an estimated 12,000 who people came out in the 50 degree temperature. The temperature quickly dropped by the end of the hour long parade.
This year on December 4, 2009, an estimated 18,000 people attended the Lights on Parade event. The temperature stayed at around 50 degrees and nobody seemed to be forced home by the cold.
The Turlock Poker room will be able to grow from the city’s maximum limit of 10 tables to the states maximum of 14 tables through a new development agreement with the City of Turlock as it was approved at Tuesday’s December 8, 2009 Council Meeting.
The City of Turlock will amend the Turlock Municipal Code to state that the new city card room table limit can be 14 while also giving the Turlock Poker Room exclusivity.
The Turlock Poker Room agreed to pay the 1 percent of gross revenues during the first year of the agreement, 2 percent of gross revenue the second year, and 3 percent in the third year of the 25 year development agreement term.
Additionally, the Turlock Poker Room will pay an increased .6 percentage of gross revenues per every additional table beginning after the 12th table with a maximum fee cap of 7.5 percent.
Kristin beat out more than 6,000 lovely ladies who entered the annual Hometown Hotties contest.
Kristin Gustafson will appear in the January issue of Maxim that goes on sale December 222, 2009 and her full profile is already on www.Maxim.com.
Kristin Gustafson will be on the cable channel E! as they premiere a 30 minute all-access special, “Maxim Hometown Hotties 2009.” The behind-the-scenes special on the top 10 finalists will air on December 25, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT.
Previous to the “CSU Stanislaus Cuts 2010-11 Winter Term Due to Budget Cuts” announcement, President Shirvani had to announce more bad news on July 10th when CSU Stanislaus reported having to close 2010 Winter and Spring admissions.
In the article “Budget Cuts Force CSU Stanislaus to Close 2010 Winter, Spring Admissions,” the cuts were due to an unprecedented budget reduction from the State, California State University, Stanislaus must close admission for the 2010 Winter and Spring terms, consistent with all other universities in the CSU system.
Shirvani said “We regret having to implement more enrollment reduction strategies, especially since we have been growing steadily over the past four years to meet the increased demand for higher education in the Central Valley. Nevertheless, the Governor’s and Legislature’s cuts to CSU have left us with no other choice but to reduce enrollment in order to maintain academic quality.”
Shortly after the July 10th announcement, the California Faculty Association released their vote of no confidence in CSU Chancellor Charles Reed on July 14th.
The article “CSU Faculty Votes to Accept Furloughs, Vote of No Confidence in CSU Chancellor” states this vote came after faculty voted to accept two unpaid furlough days a month for one year.
At its July 21st meeting, the CSU Board of Trustees finalized a plan to manage the $584 million system-wide cut that includes furloughs, student fee increases, and enrollment reductions.
The November 20, 2009 article “CSU Stanislaus General Faculty Votes ‘No Confidence’ in President Hamid Shirvani” states that the results of the California State University, Stanislaus General Faculty vote of “no confidence” ballot will be reported to Charles B. Reed, Chancellor of the California State University system, the Board of Trustees of the CSU and members of the California Legislature.
Walnut Elementary School wins statewide H1N1 PSA video contest. At an H1N1 media briefing on December 17, 2009, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) director Dr. Mark Horton announced the winners of California Film Festival contest “Lights, Camera, Save Lives!” The winning entry was produced by students from our Turlock Walnut Elementary School. As the gold winner, the school will receive a $500 gift card provided by the nonprofit California Immunization Coalition. Read More
The Turlock Police Department responded to an incident where a female was reported running out into the path of a moving train at Fulkerth and N Golden State Blvd. The train was traveling southbound when the pedestrian was reported to have run out in front of the train and laid down on the railroad tracks.
Police concluded that this was an apparent suicide.
Turlock Unified School District Trustee Lori Crivelli has resigned from the Board just after Crivelli, along with newly elected Bob Weaver and Josh Bernard, was officially seated on December 8, 2009.
Crivelli’s resignation is due to possible conflicts of interest from her family’s business relationships with the school district.
The Turlock Citizens Coalition, Dana Vaughan, Lynn Gaiser-Sarraille, and Michael Burtch filed a lawsuit against the Turlock City Council, Turlock Redevelopment, and Turlock Unified School District for their decision to use Redevelopment Agency funds to renovate the Turlock High School Joe Debely Stadium.
More specifically, individual members of each legislative body who voted in approval of funding the project with Redevelopment Agency funds have been named including Vice Mayor Ted Howze, Councilman Kurt Spycher, Councilwoman Amy Bublak and School Board Members Frank Lima, Loren Holt, Eileen Hamilton, John Sims, Robert Weaver, and Josh Bernard.
Mayor John Lazar and School Trustee Lori Crivelli are not included in the lawsuit as both abstained from voting on the stadium project funding due to conflict of interest at different meetings.
Councilwoman Mary Jackson is also not named as she was the lone vote of disapproval in funding the school district’s stadium project with City Redevelopment Agency money when the Turlock City Council voted to fund the project on November 24, 2009.
The petitioners’ lawsuit claims that the Respondents had a duty follow the law in regards to the Community Redevelopment Law and that they abused their discretion while taking actions which were not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record, so that their findings were arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable, in violation of law.