Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Date At Strait

New Date At Strait
Bridge Set To Open In A Few Months
By Lisa Vorderbrueggen/Contra Costa Times

Construction crews continue applying the final touches to the new Benicia-Martinez Bridge on Wednesday. (Contra Costa Times photos/Karl Mondon)

At long last, there's good news to report about the new Benicia-Martinez bridge, a span that has taken seven years longer to build and cost four times more than Caltrans initially estimated.

The sleek and graceful concrete segmental bridge - the largest of its kind in California and perhaps the nation - will open in late August or early September, four months earlier than the completion date the state and Bay Area Toll Authority have advertised for several years.

A few extra months might not sound like much, but the prospect of an opening date marks a monumental milestone for a bridge that has suffered one setback after another.

First, the span hit a major snag when the noise and vibration from pile-driving operations killed fish in the Carquinez Strait. The work stopped while engineers designed an air bubble curtain to protect aquatic life.

Contractors then hit unexpectedly soft rock at the base of the pilings used to support the bridge's piers. To anchor the pilings deep beneath the riverbed, the contractor inserted steel sleeves into the pilings and filled them with concrete and rebar, a costly and time-consuming task.

Later, as workers began pouring the first of 344, 16-foot segments that complete the span, the chemistry of the lightweight concrete produced too much heat. To cool the concrete down, the contractor pumped water from the river into a series of pipes to each segment until they cured properly.

All told, these delays and others factors drove the cost of the bridge and related contracts to $1.2 billion, up from Caltrans' 1995 estimate of $266 million.

The Bay Area Toll Authority covered the extra costs through a sophisticated re-financing plan that took advantage of lower interest rates and the combined buying power of toll proceeds from all state-owned Bay Area bridges.

"All the bridges helped pay for the Benicia bridge," said Bay Area Toll Authority spokesman Randy Rentschler. "This is regionalism at work. Contra Costa and Solano will enjoy a tremendous benefit that they could never have afforded to pay for themselves."

What matters now, says Mo Pazooki, the bridge's chief engineer, is that engineering triumphed over adversity and it's almost time to celebrate.

The span is more than 95 percent finished and with work so close to completion, Caltrans and the Bay Area Toll Authority have hired a consultant to help plan the grand opening celebration.

"I always feel good when a project is finished," Pazooki said, standing on the span's shiny new deck Wednesday.

What's left on the to-do list?

Workers are grinding the span's road surface to level it and carve grooves to reduce the potential for skidding, pulling electrical and other cables through the hollow center of the span, and installing signs, telephone call boxes and streetlights.

They are also wrapping up the sandblasting of the span's concrete exterior surfaces, a chiefly aesthetic operation.

Testing of the electronic toll collection system called FasTrak and interior work are under way at the new toll plaza. The plaza will offer motorists the Bay Area's first and only open toll lanes, which allow cars equipped with electronic FasTrak devices to zip through the booth at the speed limit instead of slowing to 25 mph. To accommodate the open toll lanes, the state spent $1 million to retrofit the plaza before it ever saw a single commuter.

"It's the best of all the toll plazas," said Caltrans toll captain Bruce Yingling. "The security is 100 times better. We have better access to the booths. It's even the little stuff, like storage space."

John Mantimeo applies some final touches to a sign post Wednesday, on the new Benicia- Martinez Bridge in Benicia.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

School District Celebrates Twin Achievements

School District Celebrates Twin Achievements
By Susan Winlow

The new district building on Hilborn Road will be officially dedicated today. (Photo by Mike McCoy)

FAIRFIELD - The Fairfield-Suisun School District will celebrate twice this week - Thursday and Friday - with the dedication of the district office building and the celebration of Green Valley Middle School being named a 2007 California Distinguished School.

Up first is the Thursday dedication of the $14 million school district office building, which was completed enough to house district personnel in June 2006.

A year passed and waiting a year to dedicate a building is not unusual, said Rob Pierce, the assistant superintendent of facilities and operations.

"Last summer and fall were pretty busy with just getting people in and set," he said. "We waited through the rainy season and here we are."

The dedication will be held outside and should last about an hour, Pierce said.

The mayor of Fairfield, Harry Price, School Superintendent Woodrow Carter and school board president Gary Falati are scheduled to speak at the dedication. Music will be provided by Crystal and Green Valley middle schools.

The new district office has three-stories and 75,000 square feet. For 10 years prior, the district office was in the David Weir Elementary School on Pennsylvania Avenue. When district personnel moved into the new offices at 2490 Hilborn Rd., David Weir Elementary School was renovated and turned back into a school.

"Our dedication ceremony will officially recognize a facility that Fairfield-Suisun, as well as the entire county, can be justifiably proud," Carter said.

On Friday, Green Valley Middle School will celebrate its 2007 California Distinguished School award. The celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. and a reception in the library will follow. Green Valley was one of 75 middle schools - out of 1,250 - in California selected for the 2007 honor.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or

At a glance
Who: Public
What: Fairfield-Suisun School District office building dedication
When: 4 p.m. Thursday
Where: 2490 Hilborn Rd, Fairfield
Info: 399-5000

At a glance
Who: Public
What: Green Valley Middle School Distinguished School Ceremony
When: 10:30 a.m. Friday
Where: 1350 Gold Hill Rd, Fairfield
Info: 646-7000

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lagoon Valley Developer Seeks Wetlands Permit

Lagoon Valley Developer Seeks Wetlands Permit
By Barry Eberling

VACAVILLE - A developer that wants to build more than 1,000 homes in Lagoon Valley is doing more than merely waiting for an appeals court to decide the fate of the project.

Standard Pacific Corp. has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a needed wetlands permit. People have until June 16 to submit comments to the agency.

Vacaville in 2004 approved the Lagoon Valley project calling for 1,025 homes, a 213-acre golf course designed by former U.S. Open champion Tom Kite and a retail center. It is to be built on 879 acres along Interstate 80 at the city's southern edge, near Lagoon Valley park.

But a group of opponents called Friends of Lagoon Valley sued the city to stop development. The city won in Solano County Superior Court in 2005, but opponents appealed the decision.

There is still no date set for oral arguments in the case, said Marian Conning of Friends of Lagoon Valley and Jack Jarrell of Standard Pacific Corp.

Irvine-based Standard Pacific Corp. is taking over much of the development chores from Seattle-based Triad Communities, which has spearheaded the project.

"We have the legal right to pay some money to Triad, to get all the rights they have," Jarrell said. "When the lawsuit is hopefully successfully concluded (in the city's favor), we'll pay Triad some money and they will not be so heavily involved with the project."

Besides getting the court case resolved, the company needs a permit to alter 11.9 acres that are considered waters under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Of this, 1.5 acres are wetlands, 7 acres are streams, ditches and ponds, and 3.4 acres are a commercial pond and ditch from a valley nursery.

Standard Pacific proposes to create at least 11 acres of new seasonal wetlands and ponds in Lagoon Valley. It also proposes to create 3.4 acres of ponds and drainage areas for stormwater on the golf course.

Friends of Lagoon Valley will ask that the Army Corps delay considering a permit until a watershed study related to area flooding is finished, Conning said.

Conning still hopes Lagoon Valley will remain largely undeveloped. She talked of perhaps a regional park district eventually acquiring the land. Vacaville has targeted the area for development since 1991.

"Once there are a thousand houses there, it changes our options," Conning said. "Delay is our friend in that sense. It gives us time."

Standard Pacific must get not only the Army Corps permit, but related permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Department of Fish and Game and the state Regional Water Quality Control Board, Jarrell said. The Army Corps coordinates the effort, he said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

Tahoe Artist Tapped To Paint Mural

Tahoe Artist Tapped To Paint Mural
By Ines Bebea

People get out of their car in front of the mural on Pepperbelly’s on Jackson Street in Fairfield. (Mike McCoy/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - Cathy McClelland, an artist whose work ranges from magical themes to jungles, deserts and animals, was selected Thursday to paint the second mural in downtown Fairfield.

McClelland was one of two finalists who submitted proposals to the Fairfield Mural Project. The former Fairfield resident is a full-time artist who now lives near Lake Tahoe. The other finalist was Laura Napier, a teacher from Vacaville.

"It was really a hard decision to make, given that both artists presented great work," Cynthia Garcia, management analyst with the city's Economic Development Division and coordinator of the Fairfield Mural Project, said Thursday. "Cathy's submission really appealed to the committee and it really represented our theme."

The Mural Project is a joint effort by the Rotary Club of Fairfield-Suisun, the Fairfield Downtown Business Association, the Fairfield Visual Arts Association and the city of Fairfield. The first mural, which was commissioned in 2005 and created by Lee Wilder-Snider, can be seen on the building on the southeast corner of Texas and Jackson streets, which is now home to the comedy club Pepperbelly's.

Garcia said that McClelland's proposal included a request for additional wall space. The initial plan was for the mural on the southeast corner of Texas and Webster streets to be 20-feet-tall and 19-feet-wide. With McClelland's proposed expansion, the mural will be three times larger and cost an additional $5,000. The original $10,000 donation was made by Citation Northern.

"Citation Northern donated the entire amount for the initial cost," Garcia said. "We will ask other businesses and organizations to help us raise the money. Arlene Reynolds, the building owner, has already donated $500."

A Citation Northern executive said the company sees its contribution has another investment in Fairfield.

"This was another way for us to invest in a community that we are building in," said Cari Cheney, vice president of operations for Citation Northern, which is now building the Aria community in Fairfield and recently completed the Turnstone community in Green Valley.

According to Garcia, anyone who donates $500 or more will have their named engraved on the plaque that will be placed near the mural.

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Touro's 'Village' Concept Praised

Touro's 'Village' Concept Praised
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer

With high-tech jobs, research facilities and retail centers, several residents said Thursday that Touro's "university village" on Mare Island's north end is an exciting prospect for Vallejo.

Some speakers at an informational meeting tempered their enthusiasm with concerns about traffic, public transportation and plans to turn Railroad Avenue and Azuar Drive into six-lane thoroughfares.

The Greater Vallejo Recreation District's board president, Dale Welsh, also said that agency wants a bigger voice in planning the development, citing the community's desire for a sports complex on Mare Island.

Touro's ambitious plans for the 191-acre parcel on Mare Island's north end drew nearly 50 people to the JFK Library gathering. University officials and several consultants presented the plan and answered questions about the parcel bordered by Azuar Drive, the Mare Island Strait, G Street and Highway 37. The latter will get a new interchange if plans go forward.

The "university village" project would include a health and science campus, a neighborhood park, bookstores and cafes, a hotel, wetlands management and waterfront parkway, a community center, plus student and faculty housing. About 20 abandoned buildings would be razed.

Touro Vice President Richard Hassel said an announcement is weeks away on an anchor tenant, which will have a "world impact" in science and health fields. The firm, he said, represents the cutting edge in cancer treatment and research. He added it will attract numerous large bio-technology firms eager to be near the facility.

Touro officials said the project could cost up to $500 million.

The university operates its current 44-acre campus on the island's south end.

Several Mare Island residents expressed concerns about traffic, and asked if another entrance is being planned.

"We want this to happen, but traffic has to be thought about," said Mare Island resident Fiona Varley. She said cars now back up on the island as they try to enter Highway 37.

Touro students Sarah Nangle and Hami Ramani both urged the plans include more public transportation, bike ways to reduce traffic impacts.

City planning manager Don Hazen said a third entrance is not planned. He added the city already considered Mare Island traffic increases when it signed off on environmental documents several years ago. Touro's plans do not exceed traffic conditions outlined in those environment reports, and will not trigger more studies, he said.

The city is under a six-month obligation to negotiate exclusively with Touro for parcel plans. In early summer, council members will consider endorsing Touro's general plans which would trigger creation of more specific plans, said city economic development director Susan McCue.

Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

Solano EDC Hosts Event

Solano EDC Hosts Event

The Solano Economic Development Corporation will hold a dinner event June 27, featuring keynote speaker Ralph Grossi, president of American Farmland Trust.

The event will be at the Hilton Garden Inn, 2200 Gateway Blvd., Fairfield. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person, or $350 for a table of six.

For more information or to register for the event, call 864-1855 or e-mail

Suisun Valley Co-op Aims For Niche In Wine Market

Suisun Valley Co-op Aims For Niche In Wine Market
By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer

Roger King poses inside the Suisun valley Wine Co-op tasting room located at the old Westwind Winery facility on Suisun Valley Road. (Reporter file/Rick Roach)

As Suisun Valley winemakers continue to make a name for themselves, marketing and exposure have become more important than ever.

With full-service wineries and other wine producers dotting the area, the local wine business is staging an attempt to capture the mystique and notoriety of its nearby neighbors in Napa.

One of the first combined efforts to help get the word out will be a multi-winery tasting room in the area that will showcase local wines. Taking up residence, and taking advantage of the nearly 20-year-old use permit, by leasing the old Westwind Winery facility at 4491 Suisun Valley Road, the new co-op will feature tastings of at least seven local wineries when it plans to open in June.

Roger King, president of the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association and grower of Ledgewood Vineyards, said it's imperative for local wine producers to have a market for their goods. He said having a store front to move local products, rather than selling the grapes, is one of many ways to start spreading the word on Suisun Valley.

"It's a huge step (for selling local wines)," King said. "I've got to have a sales venue. There's way more money in the bottle than on the vine."

Also sharing the building is Sunset Cellars, which has been producing Suisun Valley wines for about 10 years. Previously located in Alameda, the company has been operating out of a Lake County facility most recently. Owner Doug Sparks said that for years he has wanted to set up shop in Suisun Valley, from where 80 percent of the grapes his firm crushes come.

Sparks said he isn't sure how big of a production center will occupy the property, but said there will be wine made there. As for relocating to Suisun Valley, Sparks said the grapes there offer a unique opportunity.

"We've been looking for a place in Suisun Valley for years. We jumped on this," Sparks said. "Suisun Valley grapes are a combination of quality and value. We don't have to charge and arm and a leg."

Because the property had an existing use permit and allowed production of 5,000 cases a year, Sunset sells about 2,000 a year, it took little time to make the decision. Adding to the value was the fact was the good condition the buildings were in.

"One of the real attractions was that we had to do so little," Sparks said.

One of the only remaining questions is when the co-op will open. King said complications with the application process to sell liquor has postponed the opening, which was slated as far back as late-April. As it stands, the tentative date to open the doors is four weeks.

"We were planning on being open already," King said. "If heaven and earth move, maybe something will happen."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

Come Share The 'Joy of Eating' At Restaurant

Come Share The 'Joy of Eating' At Restaurant
By Ian Thompson

Waitress Laura Lockshaw delivers iced tea during a busy lunch at the Joy of Eating restaurant in Suisun City Thursday. (Zachary Kaufman/Daily Republic)

SUISUN CITY - Enjoying your meal is what the Joy of Eating, Suisun City waterfront's newest restaurant, is all about, according to co-owner Sun Kim.

"It is all to make the customer happy," Kim said. "The customer is always first."

This is the second Joy of Eating to open up in Solano County. The first Joy of Eating is at 1828 Springs Rd. in Vallejo.

The original restaurant was opened in 1978 by train lover Robert Eash whose train-related names for his food such as Fireman Sandwiches and Dining Car Omelets are still on the menu.

"We kept the names in honor of the original owner," Kim said.

Eash sold his restaurant to waitress and cook Carol-Ann Guldenbrien in 1992. She sold the Joy of Eating to Won and Sun Kim five years later.

The Kims have been in the restaurant business for 15 years, starting in Walnut Creek. They also own the Sushi King restaurant on Business Center Drive in Green Valley, which has been open for a year.

The Kims decided to move to Suisun City's waterfront when they discovered that the furniture store on Solano Street closed and figured the site was a good location for a second Joy of Eating.

Old Town residents spent the last few months watching as the Kims remodeled the building at the corner of Solano and Kellogg streets, turning it into a prim, clean cafe that has a nice view of Harbor Square and harbor.

"Things have changed in the decor and the menu, but it is the same good, wholesome food," Kim said. "Everything is made from scratch and cooked to order."

Joy of Eating's breakfast menu offers a full spread all day that runs the gamut from ranch breakfasts to pancakes and French toast.

The lunch menu has 13 different hot sandwiches such as the Sunrise Sandwich and the veggie Garden Burger along with seven cold sandwiches. Teriyaki dishes and salads are also offered.

Kim is especially proud of the homemade bread that the restaurant offers, which is made from a secret recipe. The bread is offered as part of the meals and is also available by the loaf for customers to purchase.

Some of Joy of Eating's customers from Vallejo have been up to sample the new restaurant's fare and said they like the new location, Kim said.

Kim doesn't feel she is competition for neighboring restaurants such as Athenian Grill and Bab's Delta Diner. She says the increased number of restaurants will bring more people to the waterfront.

Kim plans to offer take-out and catering services. She plans to set up a fax machine so business customers can fax in orders. Part of the building is still unfinished. They plan to turn that into a meeting area for local groups and parties.

The Joy of Eating has enjoyed good patronage since it opened, according to Kim.

"The word of mouth is getting around," Kim said, adding that customers are asking her to open up for dinner.

"A lot of customers have come back already."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Joy of Eating
Owner: Won and Sun Kim
Date opened: May 13
Address: 535 Solano St., Suisun City
Phone: 426-1147
Hours: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Suisun Restaurant To Feature California French Food

New Suisun Restaurant To Feature California French Food
By Ines Bebea

Diners enjoy a lunch at the new Main Street Bar & Grill at 627 Main St. in Suisun City. (Photo by Mike McCoy)

SUISUN CITY - Soo Song's new restaurant in Suisun City has the ambiance of New Orleans' famous French Quarter and a menu rich in his blend of California French food.

The Main Street Bar & Grill is where the former Main 627 restaurant used to operate. Song also owns the Old Post Office Seafood & Grill in Vacaville.

"I want to give people the kind of dining experience that they would expect in Napa and San Francisco, but without that huge price tag," Song said. "We chose Old Town Suisun City because it is easily accessible, there are new developments being constructed and the area is in a great location close to the water."

Song has kept many of the original features of the historic building, adding hardwood floors, and exposing the bricks on the walls to bring life into the building. The walls of the dining area are decorated with black and white pictures of Suisun City through the ages.

The old Main 627 was owned by Ismael Guillen for nearly 20 years. Guillen sold the restaurant in 2005, but took back control and reopened in 2006. The restaurant permanently closed in 2006.

The upstairs bar has also been remodeled and it will host live music once a week. The banquet room has room for 45 people and it can be used for meetings and private parties.

"I think our customers will like the location because it has great views and the quality of our food will wow them," said Song. "In order to make great food you have to used fresh products, that is the standard that I've had for all my restaurants and that's what people can expect when they eat here."

While he does not think of himself as a kitchen czar, Song is involved in every aspect of the two restaurants. He is committed to creating a consistency in his dishes and give customers a high standard of quality to enjoy.

"All my chefs know the way I want things done," he said. "I've trained them to prepare the dishes in a particular way so that our customers know what to expect at every meal. Our reputation is very important."

For the 25 years that Song has been in the restaurant industry, creating new dishes and working on presentation are still two of his highlights.

"People don't need to drive far away to eat great food," he added. "We are an a great destination for residents of Suisun City and Solano County."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Restaurant info
Main Street bar & Grill
627 Main St.
Suisun City
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday Through Friday; Dinner 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Agency Wins Award For Laurel Gardens Project

Agency Wins Award For Laurel Gardens Project
By Daily Republic staff

FAIRFIELD - The Fairfield Redevelopment Agency and the Fairfield Housing Authority have been named a recipient of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Merit Award for the Laurel Gardens Apartments project, the city announced Wednesday.

Laurel Gardens is the first affordable housing project in Solano County that provides housing to low-income individuals with disabilities as well as the homeless.

The project is a partnership between the redevelopment agency and the housing authority and the non-profit group Caminar Solano.

The city said in a press release that the project "proved to be a success on several levels."

Among those: It allows disabled and homeless people who have been out of the workforce for years to re-enter the job market, and it provides housing to low-income people who are already at risk of becoming homeless.

The Fairfield Redevelopment Agency contributed $1.1 million to the project, which opened in May 2006.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


University of California, Davis
May 23, 2007


Two exclusive licensing agreements to commercialize potential treatments for multiple sclerosis and psoriasis have just been completed by UC Davis InnovationAccess and Airmid Inc., a startup company based in Redwood City, Calif.

The agreements cover patents held by UC Davis and UC Irvine on two novel compounds that could be used to treat autoimmune diseases, in which the body's own immune system attacks healthy tissue. The agreements allow Airmid to pursue further testing and commercial development of the compounds.

"Airmid is the latest of the startup companies emerging from the UC campuses -- in this case from both UC Davis and UC Irvine. I'm delighted we've concluded this license with the company, and look forward to their growth and success," said David McGee, executive director of UC Davis InnovationAccess.

"We at Airmid are extremely excited about the prospect of working with the University of California and its world-renowned researchers to bring these potential therapies to the millions of sufferers of autoimmune diseases, who so desperately need safer and more effective treatments," said Airmid CEO George Miljanich.

The first compound, ShK(L5) is a synthetic version of a component of sea anemone venom. It prevents the activity of human immune cells that are implicated in conditions such as multiple sclerosis and is effective in animal models of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The second, PAP-1, is derived from a shrub, the common rue. In the laboratory, it can suppress skin inflammation in rats. It could have potential as a treatment for psoriasis.

Both compounds act to block channels that allow potassium ions to flow in or out of cells. These ion channels appear to play an important role in regulating the activity of cells in the immune system and are especially abundant on a type of immune cell implicated in diseases such as multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

"This could be a completely new mechanism of immune suppression for patients who do not respond to or have side effects from current therapies," said UC Davis' Heike Wulff, assistant professor of medical pharmacology and toxicology.

The compounds were discovered by Wulff and George Chandy, professor of physiology and biophysics at UC Irvine, as a result of work in Chandy's laboratory going back more than two decades. Chandy and Wulff are also among the co-founders of Airmid.

Both compounds have been tested in the laboratory but not yet studied in humans. UC Davis' InnovationAccess unit negotiated the licensing agreements on behalf of both campuses.

About Airmid

Airmid is a privately held pharmaceutical company based in Redwood City, Calif. Airmid is focused on developing its novel potassium ion channel blockers as safer and more effective medicines for a variety of autoimmune diseases that are inadequately treated by current therapies. These diseases include multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, type
1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

About UC Davis InnovationAccess

UC Davis InnovationAccess actively manages a patent portfolio of 841 inventions reflecting the diversity of the campus's research base, and seeks opportunities to commercialize these via licensing, with
485 currently active licensees. UC Davis has also seen an upsurge in startup companies emerging from campus research and technologies, with nearly 20 companies founded since 2005. The UC Davis InnovationAccess team is comprised of more than 20 professionals with PhDs, JDs, and MBAs with significant private-sector experience.

UC Davis licenses autoimmune patents

UC Davis licenses autoimmune patents
Sacramento Business Journal - 1:41 PM PDT Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The University of California has licensed two patents -- one from UC Davis and one from UC Irvine -- to Airmid Inc. for commercialization.

Redwood City-based Airmid has exclusive rights to pursue further testing of the compounds, which could help treat multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

The agreement was managed by UC Davis InnovationAccess, which aims to license the 841 patents it oversees.

The Sacramento Region is showing improving job growth, surpassing the Bay Area in April 2007

May 2007

The Sacramento Region is showing improving job growth, surpassing the Bay Area in April 2007 as well as the statewide and national averages.

Job growth in the six-county Sacramento Region continued to improve through April 2007, reaching the same level of growth as its previous peak in June 2006. During the 12 months ending April 2007, the Region added 26,200 jobs with a growth rate of 2.8 percent. For most of the past year, the Region was feeling the effects of weakening growth in housing-related sectors, but this pattern turned around last month primarily due to expanded growth in the Construction; Professional & Business Services; and Other Services sectors. For the past two months, the Region surpassed the statewide and national averages and once again topped the Bay Area’s job growth in April 2007.

The state has shown a fairly flat job growth pattern over the past year, averaging about 1.8 percent. The stagnant growth pattern is a result of the lingering effects of housing-related slowdowns. Between April 2006 and 2007, the state posted a 1.9 percent employment growth rate, adding 277,400 jobs. This rate of growth marks a slight improvement over the last two months and is above the rate for the same month last year. The state’s job growth has exceeded the national average since January 2007 primarily due to declining growth at the national level.

The nation is now experiencing a declining job growth pattern, shifting from the relatively flat growth trend it was seeing at the same time last year. The nation’s 1.4 percent year-over-year growth rate in April 2007 (a gain of 1.9 million jobs) is its lowest point since September 2004 and is notably less than the 1.9 percent job growth it posted in April 2006. Similar to California, the housing downturn is affecting the nation’s job growth picture with recent declines pushing it below the statewide average.

For the past year, the Bay Area has posted job growth above 2.0 percent, reflecting the momentum of the Bay Area’s economy following its recovery. Although it is slightly lower than the recent peak in January 2007, the 2.3 percent employment growth rate in April 2007 (an increase of 66,400 jobs) is considerably stronger than the Bay Area’s growth rate for the same month last year, which, at that point, was a vast improvement over most of the preceding five years. Despite being passed up by the Sacramento Region in April 2007, the Bay Area’s job growth has exceeded the statewide and national averages since May 2006.

Job Growth
Sacramento Region, Bay Area, California, and United States

Sacramento Regional Research Institute, May 2007
Data Source: Employment Development Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics
Notes: Sacramento Region includes the Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville and Yuba City MSAs. Bay Area includes
the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward MD, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City MD, and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa
Clara MSA.
Job growth reflects year-over-year Nonfarm employment growth rates.

Major Sector Employment Gains and Losses
Sacramento Region, California, and Bay Area

Sacramento Regional Research Institute, May 2007
Data Source: Employment Development Department

The Sacramento Region’s Construction sector posted positive job growth for the second straight month while Government continued to show the greatest employment gains in April 2007.

For the second straight month, the Sacramento Region’s Government; Educational & Health Services; and Professional & Business Services sectors added the most jobs among the major sectors during the 12 months ending April 2007. Combined, these three sectors contributed 15,900 to the Region’s economy, accounting for approximately 61 percent of the net gains between April 2006 and 2007. Continued improvements in the Professional & Business Services sector allowed it to remain among the top three sectors, while Construction posted positive growth for the second month in a row (as a result of commercial market activity), moving to fourth place among the Region’s major sectors. Only Manufacturing saw year-over-year job losses, continuing its nine-month trend of negative and declining job growth.

The state’s leading sectors also included Professional & Business Services; Government; and Educational & Health Services, adding a total of 156,800 jobs in the past 12 months (about 57 percent of the state’s net gain). Similar to the Sacramento Region, statewide, Construction saw its second straight month of positive growth while Manufacturing continued its long-term pattern of job losses.

For the past 12 months, every major sector in the Bay Area has posted year-over-year job gains. Between April 2006 and 2007, Professional & Business Services, Educational & Health Services; and Trade, Transportation, & Utilities topped the list of major sectors with a combined increase of 37,500 jobs (making up nearly 57 percent of the Bay Area’s net gain).

Wal-Mart Victorious In AmCan

Wal-Mart Victorious In AmCan
By DAN JUDGE/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

AMERICAN CANYON - After a three-year legal and political battle, a nearly finished Wal-Mart Supercenter got the go-ahead Tuesday to open its doors this fall.

Napa Superior Court Judge Raymond Guadagni ruled that the city's reapproval of the store in April satisfied an appellate court's zoning and environmental concerns.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said work on the Supercenter, which is 95 percent complete, will resume "imminently."

"We expect the store would be open for business in the early fall," he said. "We're looking forward to the day we can open the doors and begin serving our customers."

Simley said Wal-Mart customers will be impressed when it does open. "The store, I have to tell you, really is stunning," he said. "It's a beautiful store and an excellent example of what a new Wal-Mart store looks like."

Stacy Su, who sued to stop the project along with the group Citizens Against Poor Planning (CAPP), said she had not read the court decision and declined to comment when reached by telephone Tuesday.

Lawyers for that group and American Canyon Community United for Responsible Growth, which also filed suit, did not return calls.

Store supporters have charged that the groups are thinly veiled fronts for competing grocers.

It was Guadagni's second ruling in favor of the city, Wal-Mart and the developer of the Napa Junction project that the Supercenter will anchor.

The City Council originally approved the store in 2004 and the two groups quickly filed suit.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overturned that decision in November, saying the 194,000-square-foot store's size was misrepresented. It also found potential impacts on traffic and the local economy had not been adequately studied.

The city commissioned new traffic and economic studies and reconsidered the project's permits, which it approved.

CAPP attorney Timothy Taylor argued in court this month that the city still had not done enough to address the store's impacts, including its effect on global warming.

Judge Guadagni strongly disagreed, noting that Taylor had failed to provide any authority that requires the city to address climate change at this point in the process.

"Hopefully, this is the end of the litigation," City Attorney Bill Ross said.

Vincent "Buzz" Butler of Lake Street Ventures was relieved by Tuesday's ruling. "We're glad it's over," Butler said. "The project has been very well received and it's a wonderful amenity for American Canyon."

Plans call for Wal-Mart to close its overcrowded store in Vallejo's Meadows Plaza when the American Canyon store opens. Home Depot has signed a contract to take over the old site when that occurs.

Wal-Mart wants to open yet another Supercenter only four miles away from the new store, along Sonoma Boulevard in Vallejo.

E-mail Dan Judge at or call 553-6831.

Supes: Marketing Could Help Vineyards

Supes: Marketing Could Help Vineyards
By Ben Antonius

FAIRFIELD - With proper marketing and help from the county, Suisun Valley could become the next Napa Valley, the Board of Supervisors heard Tuesday.

That was the conclusion of the Agricultural Vision and Economic Innovation Report, a year-long study of the problems and potential of the valley.

The sentiment was that Solano County should be marketing and promoting wines and specialty crops produced in the valley, while also developing entertainment and tourist destinations. Agriculture Commissioner Jearl Howard presented the findings, which drew on dozens of interviews with farmers and residents in the valley.

If Solano County hopes to emulate Napa, it will be important to develop more than just places to buy produce, Supervisor Jim Spering said.

"If you don't develop an experience, I just don't see these stands and fruit stands surviving," he said.

The report found that many farmers feel they would be more successful if the county loosens its regulations on them, but Spering and Supervisor Barbara Kondylis said they wanted more specifics.

"Everybody always talks about these regulations, but can I see a list," Kondylis said. "Even if they're farfetched, I would like to know what they're talking about."

The findings of the report will be taken into consideration as Solano County updates its General Plan, a process that is under way now.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

Fairfield Recognized With National Housing Award

Fairfield Recognized With National Housing Award
By Ben Antonius

FAIRFIELD - The Fairfield Redevelopment Agency and the Fairfield Housing Authority have been named a recipient of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Merit Award for the Laurel Gardens Apartments project, the city announced today.

Laurel Gardens is the first affordable housing project in Solano County that provides housing to low-income individuals with disabilities and the homeless. The project is a partnership between the redevelopment agency and the housing authority and the non-profit group Caminar Solano.

See the the entire story in Thursday's Daily Republic or at

City Wants Mural To Paint Positive Image

City Wants Mural To Paint Positive Image
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - Downtown Fairfield is on its way to becoming a show place for local artists.

On Thursday, the Fairfield Mural Project will select an artist from between two finalists to paint a mural on the southeast corner of Webster and Texas streets. The first mural, commissioned in 2005, can be seen on the southeast corner of Texas and Jackson streets, home to the comedy club Pepperbellys.

The city hopes the mural project will send a positive message to residents and visitors alike.

'The purpose of this project is to revitalize our historic downtown and to bring cultural tourism to the city,' Cynthia Garcia, management analyst with the citys Economic Development Division and coordinator of the Fairfield Mural project. 'We want the mural to build pride in the community, preserve our historic roots, create a strong sense of community, and provide opportunities for local artist to present their work in a large format.'

The Rotary Club of Fairfield, the Fairfield Downtown Business Association, the Fairfield Visual Arts Association and the City of Fairfield are working together on the project. Their plan is to place as many murals as possible in the downtown area.

According to Garcia, the two artists, Cathy McClelland and Laura Napier, were asked to submit drawings depicting fauna and flora native to the area.

Napier is a teacher in Vacaville, while McClelland grew up in Fairfield but now lives near Lake Tahoe.

The work is scheduled to be displayed for 10 years. It will be paid for with a $10,000 donation from Citation Northern, a company that is now building the Aria community in Fairfield. The mural project is expected to be completed by September.

'We hope to be able to commission one mural per year until we run out of space,' Garcia said. 'It is a matter of having funding available, getting a business owner to commit his building for the 10 years and choosing the artist.'

Arlene Reynolds, who has owned the building scheduled for the second mural since1977, is an enthusiastic supporter of the mural project.

'They seem to think that its a great location, and I think the mural will help beautify downtown and bring more locals and tourists to eat and shop here,' she said. 'I was born and raised in the Fairfield-Suisun City area, and it is encouraging to participate in a project that will allow the people to continue enjoying their city and its history.'

Although the Thai restaurant at that spot has closed, a Mexican restaurant is expected to replace it in the near future.

'Our downtown has gone through hot and cold phases,' said Reynolds. 'We bought this building with the intention of leasing it, and it has been a great comfort to own a piece of the history of my hometown.'

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Agro-Tourism Seeds Planted

Agro-Tourism Seeds Planted
By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer

Boosting the agriculture, agro-tourism and the wine industry of the Suisun Valley will be discussed Tuesday by the Solano County Board of Supervisors.

They will consider a report in this regard created by the American Farmland Trust and may apply it to considerations in the update of the county's General Plan.

Board members have indicated in prior meetings that they favor addressing these agricultural issues.

In addition to building up marketing, tourism and the wine industry, the report suggests the slogan "Try Suisun" as a device to attract visitors to the area.

"Suisun Valley is a unique farming region that supports profitable family farms and quality of life for its residents. It is a destination for tourists seeking world class wine, identifiable Suisun Valley farm products and a beautiful agriculture landscape with no fallow land," states a visioning statement included in the report.

Among the report's findings, winemaking was singled out as an opportunity for the farmers in the valley to be successful. Included in suggestions are creating a communal crush and barrel storage facility for wine growers.

It also recommends changing regulations and zoning to allow growers to be more successful by adhering to the same rules as neighboring counties such as Napa.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors will meet today at 8:30 a.m. in the board chamber, 675 Texas St. in Fairfield.

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

Monday, May 21, 2007

Supervisors To Hear Study Touting Appeal Of Suisun Valley

Supervisors To Hear Study Touting Appeal Of Suisun Valley
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - A new study has dozens of suggestions to help make rural Suisun Valley a flourishing tourist destination renowned for world-class wines and the charm of its small farms.

"Suisun Valley has tremendous potential to prosper as a unique agricultural region," said the study by the American Farmland Trust, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C.

Many farmers in the 10,000-acre valley west of Fairfield-Suisun say they're not prospering now. They blame global competition, state and county regulations, and other factors. With Interstate 80 nearby, hard times for farming could lead to development on land that nearby cities have long valued as open space.

Solano County, the Solano Irrigation District and the Suisun Valley Fund paid a total of $45,000 for the American Land Trust study on Suisun Valley. That study recommends such things as launching marketing campaigns and having an agricultural economic development specialist.

The county Board of Supervisors will hear a presentation on Tuesday. Supervisors meet at 9 a.m. in their chamber at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St.

Linda Tenbrink and her family farm about 100 acres in Suisun Valley, growing grapes, tomatoes, walnuts and other crops. She's seen studies before.

"It's when you're able to put your ideas into action that you get results," Tenbrink said Friday.

Talking with friends and neighbors, she sees more reason for optimism than in the past. The public seems to understand that simply keeping land from being developed doesn't make farming profitable, she said.

"I think we're actually starting to see hope for action," Tenbrink said.

The American Farmland Trust began work on the report in October 2006 by holding two meetings with local farmers. It invited more than 400 people. About 30 attended.

Based on the farmers' comments, the trust came up with vision statement. That statement describes the valley as "a destination for tourists seeking world-class wine, identifiable Suisun Valley farm products and a beautiful agricultural landscape with no fallow land. The Suisun Valley appellation is so famous that it creates new markets and increases demand for Suisun Valley wine and other farm products outside the region."

The challenge is making that vision a reality. Suisun Valley has only two winery tasting rooms, compared to the 10 or so some valley advocates would like to see. Farmers say regulations hinder such enterprises as bed-and-breakfasts to attract tourists. The valley has several produce stands, but farmers say regulations hinder creating more of these, as well.

"For agriculture to succeed in this relatively small but fertile valley, the county, city of Fairfield and other agencies must provide the same support and opportunities that they offer to other industries," the report said.

The American Farmland Trust study has four pages of recommendations. Among them is increasing the political will to support farming. Encourage farmers to run for the county Board of Supervisors and city councils and to be on planning commissions, the report said.

Solano County can change regulations and remove barriers to help farms thrive economically, the report said. Among the suggestions: Making it easier for a farmer to process a neighboring farmer's wine and allowing wine made at a communal crush facility to be sold at an on-farm tasting room.

The report called for an agricultural development plan that sets priorities and describes who will carry them out. An agricultural economic development specialist - a position that does not exist in the county - could help, it said.

Solano County will use the American Farmland Trust report when revising its General Plan for Suisun Valley in coming months. A county committee will hold a series of meetings on the valley. The first is at 7 p.m. May 29 at Solano Community College.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

At a glance
Who: Solano County Board of Supervisors
What: Suisun Valley report
When: 9 a.m. Tuesday
Where: County Government Center, 675 Texas St.
Info: 784-1310

Paradise Expands

Paradise Expands
New Assisted Living Facility Under Construction In Fairfield
By Reporter Staff

A construction worker works on a new sidewalk at the Quail Creek Assisted Living building under construction at Paradise Valley in Fairfield. (Brad Zweerink/The Reporter)

The cozy apartments of Northern Solano County's newest assisted living center include private baths, living rooms and mini kitchens among a host of other amenities - all aimed at providing future residents with a home-like atmosphere, a measure of independence and access to individual care whenever needed.

The Quail Creek Assisted Living building at Paradise Valley Estates is still under construction, but when complete, the 43,000-square-foot, three-floor building will feature 40 sunny one-bedroom apartments measuring 530 square feet in size.

The facility will open to the public in July, according to Sharon Dominik, Marketing Director for Paradise Valley Estates.

The need for assisted living centers continues to grow, said Dominik.

"There is a pressing need for assisted living facilities across the nation, and in Northern California in particular," she said. "Quail Creek Assisted Living not only addresses the need, but fulfills it in an active, engaging environment." She said residents will be encouraged to "get involved" and be part of the facility's many activities.

"There are clubs to join, classes to take, card games to sit in on, for example," she said. "Residents will find it an invigorating environment."

According to the National Center for Assisted Living, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of such facilities in the nation. However, it is currently estimated that there are 36,000 assisted living residences nationwide.

The "typical" assisted living customer is 85 years old. Three quarters of assisted living residents are female. About 68 percent of assisted living residents need assistance with bathing and almost half need help with dressing, according to the NCAL.

Quail Creek will offer its residents three levels of care, designed with the idea that "people have different needs, and therefore they require different types of service and support," explained Dominik.

Staffed with 24-hour nursing care, a fitness staff and activities coordinator, Quail Creek - and all of Paradise Valley Estates - strives to offer its residents access to a successful, vital retirement, she said.

"Our philosophy is to invite, invigorate and actively engage the mind and body of our residents in a safe, secure surrounding," said Janet Olson, Fitness Manager for Paradise Valley Estates.

Paradise Valley Estates is a gated community for retired military officers and their spouses, and is operated by the Northern California Retired Officers Community (NCROC). Within Paradise Valley's gates are 327 independent residences, a health and fitness center and tennis court, as well as the award-winning Laurel Creek Center. Last year, Laurel Creek was ranked in the top 10 percent of nursing homes by Consumer Reports.

Unlike Paradise Valley Estates, Quail Creek will not require that its residents be retired military officers, and it will instead be open to the public.

Quail Creek will also offer its residents the same access to the high standards, award-winning care and activities-packed environment found at Laurel Creek.

Among the other unique features at Quail Creek will be an open grill-style dining room, where three "cooked-as-you-order" meals will be served every day of the week. A fitness center, family meeting and activity rooms, a beauty salon and barber shop, spa, library, and computer station with Internet access are also incorporated into the building. Quail Creek also provides its residents with weekly housekeeping services, as well as flat linen laundry service and regular maintenance as part of the monthly fee.

For more information, call 1-800-618-0742.

10 Questions With Charles Eason

10 Questions With Charles Eason
By Ines Bebea

Title: Director

Company: Solano College Small Business Development Center

Address: 360 Campus Lane, Suite 102

Phone: 864-3382

Web site:

1. What are the biggest challenges you face in your position?

Having to continually seek funding to keep the Small Business Development Center program alive and get the word out about what we do. Many people say they wish they had heard of us when they were first getting started in business.

2. How do you overcome these obstacles?

By developing strong relationships with all the cities, county and economic development partners and private sector supporters so that we can leverage the federal and state dollars. For the challenge of making people aware of our programs, we have to rely on publicity and networking since we do not have a marketing budget.

3. What role do you have in the future of the economy?

Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, both locally and nationally. They account for over 97 percent of the businesses here in Solano County, and nationwide create two-thirds of all jobs. I see my role as helping to nurture new businesses and helping existing businesses grow and prosper.

4. What areas are suffering?

Downtowns have been struggling. It has been particularly difficult for the independent businesses to survive and thrive. Unless you are a destination business, it is difficult to rely on foot traffic. It comes down to creating a critical mass to attract the foot traffic downtown.

5. If you had the power to directly influence the economy, what would you do?

I would focus on creating an economy based on bringing in dollars from outside the region. Many of our residents commute outside the county for work. It would be great to provide more opportunities for them to work in Solano County so that they can spend more time with their families and be more involved in the community.

6. What is your long-term plan?

I would like us to build an economy based on innovation that creates fast growing "gazelle" companies. I'm planning on pursuing some federal funding through the Partnerships for Innovation from the National Science Foundation to bring together education, government, and private-sector resources around such an effort.

7. What's the last book you read?

"Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren.

8. What do you do to relax?

Sit in our hot tub thinking about business ideas.

9.What's the last movie you saw?

If you don't count the 3D IMAX Dinosaur movie I saw recently, it would be the motivational documentary called "The Secret."

10. What is your biggest accomplishment?

Becoming a respected member of the community, and a person that people say is someone you should talk to if you have entrepreneurial dreams.

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Complicated Growth Issues Face Solano

Complicated Growth Issues Face Solano
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Middle Green Valley has long been a battleground in the Solano County growth wars - and the county is looking for a permanent truce.

Some say the county should allow homes in this rural area between Fairfield subdivisions and the custom homes of upper Green Valley. Others say the county should preserve open space and rich farming soils.

Solano County will tackle middle Green Valley and other thorny rural growth and land use issues during the next three months with a blitz of meetings.

Green Valley, Suisun Valley, Collinsville and old town Cordelia will each have their own series of workshops. The county is crafting General Plan revisions to govern land use in these areas for the coming 20 years.

Solano County hopes to work with the community and find options that most people can accept, county planning consultant Harry Englebright said.

Middle Green Valley

Reaching a consensus over middle Green Valley has long been an elusive goal.

Bill Maher owns 148 acres there adjacent to Fairfield city limits. He is among five property owners who want a total of 619 acres rezoned to rural residential, allowing homes on lots of 2.5 acres to 10 acres.

"I'm losing a lot of money," Maher said. "I've tried five or six different crops . . . 148 acres, you can't make money on that now, especially if you can't sell the grapes."

He needs his mini-storage business in Vallejo to support the farming venture, he said.

But Green Valley resident Jerry Gerald can't see building homes on prime Green Valley farm soils. He is working on the issue for the Green Valley Landowners Association, a group that seeks to preserve the area's rural character.

"When you drive down Green Valley Road, it's beautiful, it's gorgeous with the fields and vineyards," he said. "I think most people would be opposed to having most of that destroyed by putting up houses."

He acknowledged farmers need help, but said the answer is changing regulations that hinder such things as produce stands and bed-and-breakfasts.

Fairfield during the early 1990s looked at annexing some 800 acres in middle Green Valley and developing it with 1,000 homes and a golf course, leading to a growth battle. The city has since jettisoned the area from its growth boundaries.

Now Solano County will try to bring the various parties together again and finally resolve the fate of middle Green Valley.

Suisun Valley

Suisun Valley stands at the crossroads between farming and development.

The 10,000-acre valley west of Fairfield has vineyards, orchards, wineries and farms. It has small, commercial centers at Rockville Corners and Mankas Corners. It has some of the richest soils in Solano County and the state.

But the valley is near Interstate 80, leading to development pressures. Some farmers there say making money has grown difficult because of such factors as global competition and state and county regulations. More and more, land lies fallow.

Derrick Lum farms Bartlett pears, garbanzo beans, apricots and other crops there. He suggested the county stress finding ways for farmers to make money, as opposed to simply keeping the valley off-limits to development.

"That will keep the land preserved in agriculture," Lum said.

Lum wants the workshops to tackle various regulations he thinks hinder farm profits. For example, in some situations, farmers can have a small walnut hulling plant and hull their own walnuts, but not those from neighbors, he said.

"We're working through situations like that," Lum said.

Another issue is regulations that farmers say hinder such money-making opportunities as fruit stands and bed-and-breakfasts. These enterprises could fit in with efforts to make Suisun Valley a regional tourist draw, with farmers selling products directly to customers.


The Collinsville area in remote eastern Solano County near the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers has long been targeted for big things that never happen.

A property owner in the 1860s promised a city bigger than San Francisco. In the 1960s, National Steel Co. and Dow Chemical Co. wanted to build plants there. PG&E talked of building an atomic power plant.

Solano County for several decades has targeted the area for a deep water port and related industries. Supervisor Mike Reagan has talked about a toll road someday passing through to link Solano County with Contra Costa County on the other side of the water.

Now San Francisco-based One Vision Park has its eye on 2,700 acres there. It envisions such things as alternative energy ventures and perhaps a California state university campus.

But Collinsville remains a hamlet with a few dozen homes. Much of the surrounding area is cow pastures, with Suisun Marsh to the west and the rolling Montezuma Hills to the north.

Tule West has a home in the area and spends part of the year there. Her roots there go deep, back to a grandfather she described as an "ardent conservationist." Her first name is derived from the tules in the marsh.

She'd be happy if the Collinsville area remains remote and rural, a haven for wildlife, ranching and small towns, rather than big business.

"It's such a beautiful spot," West said. "I don't think the focus is on conservation and preserving the area. It seems to be on development."

The workshops will help decide which dreams for Collinsville the county pursues.


Unincorporated Cordelia is a pioneer Solano County town that is now almost surrounded by the homes and offices of Fairfield, with Suisun Marsh to the east.

Most of the town's businesses got destroyed in a 1939 fire. But dozens of historic homes remain, ranging from simple box-styles to ornate Victorians with gables and cornices. Remaining also is the old Studer building that now houses the Thompson's Corner bar.

Some residents have expressed concern about preserving the town's historic flavor. Issues include making certain new construction fits in with what's there.

The Workshops

People with varying viewpoints are invited to the workshops, which are being done under the auspices of the county's General Plan Update Citizens Advisory Committee. Each workshop is run by a subcommittee of the larger group.

Participants at the workshop will look at various alternate land-use proposals for each area, Englebright said. They'll try to agree on a preferred alternative.

Regardless, the various alternatives will eventually go to the full General Plan Citizens Advisory Committee.

The committee is to make recommendations to the county Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. Supervisors want to vote on a revised General Plan in summer 2008.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

County General Plan Workshops

--Middle Green Valley workshops will start at 7 p.m. at Solano Community College, room 1625, 4000 Suisun Valley Road. They will be held on May 22, June 12, June 26, July 17, July 31 and Aug. 14.

--Suisun Valley workshops will start at 7 p.m. at Solano Community College, room 1625. They will be held on May 29, June 19, July 10, July 24 and Aug. 7.

--Collinsville workshops will start at 7 p.m. at the Rio Vista library, 44 South Second St. They will be held on May 24, June 14, July 5 and July 26.

--Cordelia workshops will start at 7 p.m. at the Cordelia Fire Hall, 2155 Cordelia Road. They will be held on June 7, June 28 and July 12.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

$50,000-per-year GREAT grants stimulate and support promising UC Davis young researchers

University of California, Davis
May 18, 2007


In an effort to stimulate advancements in biotechnology and support promising young researchers from many fields of study, the University of California Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program has awarded more than a half million dollars in 11 new training grants to graduate students and their faculty mentors at UC Davis and five other UC campuses.

The $50,000-per-year Graduate Research and Education in Adaptive bioTechnology (GREAT) training grants are among the highest individual awards given for graduate education and training anywhere in the nation. They will fund biotechnology-related research into such areas as biomedical engineering, human therapeutics, neuroscience, stem-cell culture and biomolecular engineering. These research projects incorporate cross-disciplinary training that spans all fields of science, engineering, medicine and agriculture.

"This training-grant program is designed to provide the catalyst for rapid technological advancements in areas such as nanotechnology and biological materials modeling by providing a research environment that nurtures diverse fields of study," said Martina McGloughlin, director of the UC Davis-based UC Biotechnology Research and Education Program. "The student-faculty teams selected to receive the grants were chosen on the basis of their demonstrated ability to understand and solve problems that cross over diverse disciplines."

At UC Davis, grants were awarded to:

* Chemical engineering student Ileri Nazar, who works in the development of si-nanopores for external control of transport of biomolecules under the sponsorship of Professor Peter Stroeve; and
* Chemical engineering student Michael Plesha, who is developing a plant-based expression system for the efficient production of human therapeutics with Professor Karen McDonald.

The other training grants were awarded to:

UC Berkeley

* Biophysics student Viviana Risca, who is working on actin network mechanics from the bottom up with optical tweezers-based studies of actin filament structures under the direction of Professor Daniel Fletcher;
* Neuroscience student Lavi Secundo, who is developing neuroprosthesis control via cortical modulation of upper-limb muscle activity in the laboratory of Professor Jose Carmena;


* Psychology student Kate Wassum, who uses an implantable MEA biosensor for measuring brain neurotransmitter release in animal models of addictive behavior under the direction of Professor Nigel Maidment;
* Computer science student Nils Homer, who is finding analysis methods for cost-effective genomewide SNP association studies with Professor Stanley Nelson;

UC San Diego

* Bioengineering student David Brafman, who is researching arrayed cellular microenvironments for identifying the optimum conditions for proliferating and differentiation of human embryonic stem cells in Professor Shu Chien's laboratory;

UC San Francisco

* Chemical biology student Emily Crawford, who is developing a novel technology for global analysis of apoptotic caspase targets under sponsorship of Professor James Wells;
* Biophysics student Elizabeth Hesper Rego, who is researching ultra-high resolution light microscopy using nonlinear structured illumination with Professor Mats Gustafsson;

UC Santa Barbara

* Biomolecular engineering student Scott Wasko, who is exploring mimicry of whelk egg capsule biopolymers in the laboratory of Professor John Herbert Waite; and
* Biomolecular engineering student Lukmaan Bawazar, who is researching the interface of materials science and engineering focusing on directed laboratory evolution of bio-mineralization systems with Professor Daniel Morse.

The GREAT program, developed four years ago, supports the training of the brightest young University of California graduate students in theoretical and experimental research, students who are working at the nexus of the life sciences and the physical, chemical, engineering, mathematical and computational sciences. Nine UC campuses have now been awarded one or more of these prestigious systemwide grants.

Notable accomplishments of the program include those of Adam Seipel, formerly at UC Santa Cruz, who secured an appointment as a tenure-track assistant professor at Cornell immediately out of graduate school. He made headlines in August 2006 as a member of the group that characterized a gene in the neocortex that has changed rapidly during human evolution. This finding brings scientists a step closer toward understanding what sets humans apart from their closest cousins. Seipel noted that it had been very difficult to obtain support as a returning graduate student, and the GREAT program made it possible for him to undertake a novel project and complete graduate school in record time.

Another milestone was achieved in November 2006 when the HYPERCEST biosensor was invented by GREAT student Tom Lowery in the laboratory of UC Berkeley Professor David Wemmer. This biosensor, which includes xenon as the signal source in a specially designed molecular cage, dramatically increases the sensitivity of magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) and will have extensive clinical application.

Five months later, in April 2007, a paper by Roy Wollman, who worked in Professor Jonathan Scholey's lab at UC Davis, was published in the journal Science. The paper reported Wollman's findings from his work using a full genome RNAi screen to demonstrate the unexpected complexity of cell division, which involves some 200 genes (150 previously unknown). This research provides insight into potential targets for cancer therapeutics.

Media contact(s):
* Martina Newell-McGloughlin, UC Biotechnology Research and Education Program, (530) 752-9843,
* Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9843,

Friday, May 18, 2007

San Jose area ranks tops for nanotech

Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal - May 18, 2007

San Jose area ranks tops for nanotech (Note UC Davis located partially within Solano County has contracted research in nanotech)

Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal - 9:52 AM PDT Friday, May 18, 2007
San Jose tops the nation in nanotechnology, according to a study released Thursday.

The Washington, D.C.-based Project on Emerging Technologies said three of the top nano metro centers are in California -- San Jose with 55 entities doing nanotech, San Francisco with 20 and Oakland with 16.

The other two top nano metro centers were in Massachusetts: Boston (33) and two counties north of that city -- Middlesex and Essex -- with 23.

The top four nanotechnology states identified by the study are California, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas.

The study said nanotechnology companies are working in three main sectors: materials, medicine and health, and tools and instruments.

In addition, 138 universities and government laboratories were identified working on some aspect of nanotechnology.

In all, the study said, 47 of 50 states and the District of Columbia contain at least one company, university, government laboratory, or organization working in nanotechnology.

In 2006, according to Lux Research, governments, corporations and venture capitalists worldwide spent $12.4 billion on nanotechnology research and development -- up almost 30 percent from 2005.

By 2014, Lux estimates $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods will incorporate nanotechnology -- or about 15 percent of total global output.

"Nanotechnology is usually seen as a worldwide or national enterprise, with the U.S. government alone investing $6.8 billion in nanotech R&D over the last decade. But what some describe as 'The Next Industrial Revolution,' is actually taking place at a local and state level," said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Director David Rejeski.

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was established in April 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The full report is available at .

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Suisun City Plans To Dredge Up Harbor

Suisun City Plans To Dredge Up Harbor
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City is gearing up to dredge its harbor next year and is pulling together a funding mechanism to pay for the effort.

The last time the city deepened part of the marina - the area around the boat launch ramp and fuel dock and Whispering Bay - was four years ago.

Usually, it is about eight to 10 years between dredgings but heavy rains and storms during the past three years have caused more silt than normal to build up in the harbor..

"We are planning to concentrate on the Marina area," Recreation and Community Services Department head Mick Jessop said. "We don't believe Whispering Bay needs a lot of dredging, but we are going to do soundings there."

"We want to stretch our dollars where we can," Jessop said.

The depth soundings will determine how much area needs to be dredged and how much the whole project will cost.

The areas most in need of dredging are in front of the public boat launch ramp, around the fuel dock and just south of the Solano Yacht Club.

"It is difficult to get bigger boats in there," Jessop said of the boat launch ramp.

Part of the preparations involve gathering funds from two assessment districts and seeking out a third funding source, possibly grants.

Another part is preparing Pierce Island just south of the city to accept the spoils, a cost-saving benefit that few other cities can boast.

There is also the need to acquire necessary state and federal permits, hiring a consultant to define the scope of the project and working out the best time to dredge so the damage to the area's fish population is kept to a minimum.

If things go as planned, Jessop expects to see the work done in the late summer and early fall of 2008.

The city is also trying to get the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge a few areas along the Suisun Slough outside of the city limits that include a couple of areas on the way to Hunters Cut.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Vacaville Revives VIP Day, A Development Sales Pitch

Vacaville Revives VIP Day, A Development Sales Pitch
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

The Nut Tree Family Park was the backdrop Wednesday for the triumphant return of a very important local event, which drew more than 200 VIPs - top developers, real estate executives and other professionals from throughout the region.

Vacaville once again showcased its assets during the first VIP Day in a decade. Professionals from Sacramento to the Bay Area were invited to mingle with their peers and local leaders while learning about growth and development opportunities in the city.

Mayor Len Augustine extended the official welcome and said he is proud of Vacaville's economic vitality. He explained that one of the city's goals is to support business.

"If I start talking about Vacaville, I could go on all day," Augustine said. "So many things are happening, it's hard to explain everything."

Event chair Patsy Van Ouwerkerk said the theme of the day was "get connected to success," referring to the networking opportunities the occasion provided. VIP Day drew a variety of business representatives, from familiar names to visitors whose only prior contact with Vacaville was blowing by on the freeway.

Alan Wulff of local business Wulff Electric, said, "I commend the city of Vacaville for providing this kind of environment. This is an opportunity to promote our services to local businesses and to potential new businesses coming into the Vacaville area."

Lori Coleman, project manager with Nut Tree developer Snell and Company, exclaimed, "we're tremendously excited that we've had such a positive turnout. Many people don't know the Nut Tree has returned, and this gives us a chance to show off our asset."

A bus tour that followed breakfast hit all local points of interest, traveling through the city's commercial and industrial areas. Along the way, guides pointed out the sites of projects like the Genentech expansion, Opportunity Hill, Kaiser Hospital and State Compensation Insurance Fund, as well as established assets like Town Square, the Factory Stores and Lagoon Valley.

Tour guide and Economic Development Director Mike Palombo explained the significance of the sites, like the 7 million visitors that the factory stores draw to the city each year and the more than 400,000 square feet of office space the State Fund site will add to Vacaville. Along the way, he shared details about vacant land and commercial and industrial space available to businesses.

A. Marie Young, a member of the Solano Community College Governing Board, said the tour was her first venture into the interior of the city. Before Wednesday, she said she was not aware how many businesses were in the area and how much growth had occurred.

"After the tour, I see that Vacaville, if you've got a business, is the place to come," Young said. "Vacaville has the kind of businesses you can't find in other cities in Solano County."

The day ended with a luncheon, which featured guest speaker Luis Belmonte of Seven Hills Properties. Belmonte told the assembly that there were only three periods when "the world acted as a single economic unit." These were the height of the Roman and British empires and the present.

"The absolute cutting edge of the economic universe is right here," he said, referring to the Bay Area region. However, he added, "this is a precarious mountain top we're on."

Speaking to the importance of the biotechnology industry, Belmonte said, "(biotech) has the potential to change the way we live" and suggested its role in solving the health care crisis. Touching on the issue of global warming and alternative energy, he mentioned that the country imports 14 million barrels of oil per day.

"We are not going to achieve energy independence," he said, but added that the country could diversify its energy sources.

The speaker also decried the "regulatory gridlock" that obstructs construction of affordable housing and stressed the need to advocate for free trade "all day, every day."

"This perch is in no way, shape or form guaranteed," he said. "We're going to have to take some action."

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

Vacaville: 'Great Hub For Businesses'

Vacaville: 'Great Hub For Businesses'
By Ines Bebea

Local and regional businessmen and women and political figures listen to a guide speak about various business opportunities during a bus tour of Vacaville Wednesday morning as part of VIP Day. (Photo by Chris Jordan)

VACAVILLE - Business advocates and elected officials laid out the red carpet to prospective businesses and real estate developers Wednesday during the first VIP Day in Vacaville in 10 years.

The tour of current construction projects and available prime real estate was a collaborative effort by the city of Vacaville, Vacaville Chamber of Commerce, and Solano Economic Development Corp. The participants - about 200 - learned of the key elements the city can offer prospective and current businesses: land, ready infrastructure, and highly skilled workers.

"As a business that has been here for a long time, and gotten an opportunity to grow, Vacaville is a great hub for businesses," said Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, president and chief executive officer of Travis Credit Union. "As a board member of the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce, our goal is to create a business friendly environment, and as the city grows, businesses grow."

Vacaville is currently experiencing an economic boom, with expansion projects by top employers such as Genentech and Kaiser Permanente.

"There was a time when we were in the peripheral view of the Bay Area, as people drove by on their way to Sacramento or San Francisco," Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said. "Our future is brighter now, because we are in the middle of the megalopolis that is San Francisco and Sacramento. Our economic vitality is helping old and new businesses succeed in Vacaville."

Sandy Person, vice president of Solano EDC, attributed the economic power of Vacaville to its location along Interstate 80, and the example that the existing employers set for prospective industries.

"If you take a look at the companies that are already here, you see why Vacaville works," Person said. "Fentons Creamery, Alza, a division of Johnson & Johnson, and the State Compensation Insurance Fund. They are in an environment that is ripe for their futures and their expansion."

Person was unsure if the rest of the six cities in Solano County are working on plans to have their own VIP Day, but said such an event would certainly help them showcase their businesses opportunities.

The VIP Day's theme was to connect businesses and professionals to the area, and for William Brizendine it had the expected effect.

"I know nothing about Vacaville outside of the fact that I drive by it on my way to the city," said Brizendine, director of CB Richard Ellis Melody in San Francisco. "Now, I know of all the opportunities the city has to offer."

As the keynote speaker, Luis Belmonte, a former vice president with AMB, an industrial and commercial developing firm in San Francisco, put into perspective the economic role that Vacaville can play in the global economy.

"A telling sign of any economy is to follow where the money is going," Belmonte said. "If the money is coming in, you are in the right place, and the Bay Area is in the economic forefront of the U.S. with its multitude of venture capitalist companies."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Counties, Caltrans agree to co-manage Highway 12 project

Counties, Caltrans agree to co-manage Highway 12 project
By DAN JUDGE/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Article Launched:05/12/2007 08:08:58 AM PDT
Solano and Napa counties have signed an agreement with Caltrans designed to keep the Highway 12 road-widening project rolling.

The three agencies have agreed to co-manage the project, which would make improvements to the dangerous stretch of highway known as Jameson Canyon Road. The section stretches from Highway 29 in Napa County to Interstate 80 in Solano County.

The new pact would allow the counties to move forward on the project if Caltrans gets bogged down in its numerous other projects in the region, Napa County Transportation Planning Agency board member Bill Dodd said Friday.

It also gives both counties more influence over any changes over the course of the work, he said.

"We believe having more local control will allow us to bring the project in on time and on budget," Dodd said.

Caltrans has estimated the cost of widening Jameson Canyon Road from two to four lanes at $139 million.

The California Transportation Commission recently awarded $74 million of that sum to the project from traffic congestion relief bonds approved by the voters last November.

NCTPA Executive Director Jim Leddy said the amount the state granted was less than requested because the voters of both counties turned down sales tax measures designed to ease traffic congestion.

State commission members said allotting more money would be unfair to those communities that have approved such self-help fees.

"We were penalized for not having a local sales tax but we're going to make it work," Leddy said. "It won't be everything we need right now but it will be a good first step in solving the congestion on Jameson Canyon."

He added that the new agreement will give the counties the ability to push the project along to its estimated completion date in 2013.

"If there are any problems, it gives us a powerful position in this process instead of being reliant on Caltrans." he said. "It puts Napa County in the driver's seat with Solano County as a partner."

E-mail Dan Judge at or call 553-6831.

Bay Area execs see job growth

Bay Area execs see job growth
Chronicle Staff
Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bay Area executives plan to add jobs at a slightly slower pace in the next six months, but hiring should still be brisk, according to the latest survey of regional business confidence.

About 41 percent of 510 business leaders in the nine Bay Area counties interviewed in April said they will boost payrolls in the next six months, according to the Bay Area Council's quarterly survey. That's down from the 44 percent of respondents who said they planned to hire in the previous survey conducted in January.

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

Mercedes-Benz To Set Up Shop In Auto Mall

Mercedes-Benz To Set Up Shop In Auto Mall
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - Luxury car dealer Mercedes-Benz plans to open a dealership in the Fairfield Auto Mall. The dealership will be owned and operated by Paul Halata, the retired president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz, U.S.A.

The dealership is expected to open in 2008. Its 4.4-acre parcel will front Interstate 80 and be near the Highway 12 intersection.

"We are excited to bring Mercedes-Benz to Fairfield and anticipate a great future and much success with the Mercedes-Benz brand," Halata said Monday.

Halata and his son, Mark, plan to build a state-of-the-art dealership that includes a two-story glass building and parking on the roof.

Mayor Harry Price said the new dealership adds to an already strong auto segment in Fairfield.

"The visibility and the concentration of so many new and used car choices in Fairfield works very well for dealers," he said. "The tax revenue dealerships generate certainly help create a strong economic base for Fairfield."

According to the city's Economic Development Division, new car sales generated $2.9 million in taxes 2006. That figure is projected to increase to $4 million in 2008, encompassing 22 percent of the city's total sales tax income.

In addition to the Mercedes-Benz dealership, Simon Buniak, president of Golden State Mitsubishi and Suzuki, plans to move his Saturn dealership in Cordelia to the Auto Mall. The two moves will bring the total number of car dealerships on the 31-acre Auto Mall to 16.

"Fairfield is a good community for our new dealership because of its geographic location between two major cities -San Francisco and Sacramento," said Buniak.

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Whales Wend Their Way To Rio Vista

Whales Wend Their Way To Rio Vista
By Audrey Wong

A Sacramento Sheriff's boat follows a whale in the Sacramento River on Monday in an attempt to herd it back out to sea. (Mike McCoy/Daily Republic)

RIO VISTA - One of two humpback whales swimming off the shores of the Sacramento River has something wrapped around its mouth and back, the Solano County Sheriff's Office said Monday night.

The whale, which appears to have a calf with it, is still able to swim, much to the delight of onlookers who gathered Monday on the shores of the river near Rio Vista.

Today, a crew from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is scheduled to begin efforts to free the whales, said Paula Toynbee, a spokeswoman for the Solano County Sheriff's Office

Witnesses reported spotting two whales Sunday evening near Sandy Beach close to Rio Vista, Toynbee said. However spectators reported seeing as many as four whales, while some say it is a mother and two calves.

On Monday morning, residents saw whales swimming by the Real McCoy Ferry to Ryer Island. The Solano County Sheriff's Marine Patrol rushed out to steer the behemoths toward the San Francisco Bay. Crews from the United States Coast Guard also helped in the attempt to steer the whales back toward the Pacific.

Daniel McTaggart of Rio Vista wondered why the whales ventured so far upstream.

"How can whales that large get into a small body of water and not feel out place?" he asked.

Whale watchers on Ryer Island speculated how fresh water would affect the skin and eyes of the whales. The same worries were voiced 20 years ago when a humpback whale that came to be known as Humphrey meandered into the same area and stayed for about a month.

Boat crews Monday scrambled back and forth on the river to keep the whales from traveling farther north toward Sacramento. The whales stayed north of the ferry and kept trying to swim further north.

Boats raced after the whales as they headed upstream. They furiously circled around to shepherd the aquatic animals south. But sometimes the whales eluded officials and surfaced farther north of Ryer Island, blowing mist out of their spouts.

"It's like the boats and whales are playing tag," said Neesa Paycer-Mosher, 6, of Southland Park in Sacramento.

Neesa's mother Janiece Paycer-Mosher brought the girl and her brother, Paycer Mensik, 10, to see the whales.

Paycer said the whales were "basically staying in the same area . . they seem to be bouncing back and forth."

The Sacramento woman learned of the whale sighting on television and rushed to Ryer Island at 1 p.m. to watch. Then she picked her children up from school and took them whale watching. They saw two of the whales roll their great backs out of the water.

Several other spectators said they learned of the whales' visit on the news and drove to Ryer Island to see them. Motorists parked their vehicles on the narrow two-lane levy roads and stared at the water. Passengers perched on top of cars and fixed their cameras on the river.

A long line of vehicles clogged the road. As the whales coasted north and south, spectators revved up their vehicles to follow them. Some motorists made 3-point turns on the levy roads and stopped on parts of the road that didn't have much of a shoulder. Spectators scurried on the road and around vehicles to get a better view of the action.

The whale watchers gasped once when they saw a smaller set of flippers break the surface only to realize the flippers were those of a sea lion.

The Coast Guard halted ferry service when the whales ventured too close to the path of the ferry, said Tawfik Marmoush, ferry deck officer. Marmoush said he saw a mother and two calves, but because the smaller whale was surfacing so much he could've mistaken it for two animals. He estimated the mother is 40 feet long while her calf is 15 feet long.

"The mom is very quiet," Marmoush said.

The baby was more rambunctious but stayed away from the ferry. The mother whale approached within 5 feet of the ferry and swam alongside it, Marmoush said.

One local resident compared the whale duo to Humphrey who swam in the same north-south pattern until officials clanged submerged metal pipes to herd Humphrey back to sea.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or

Monday, May 14, 2007

City to Roll Red Carpet For Investors

City to Roll Red Carpet For Investors
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Dozens of developers and real estate professionals will see the best the city has to offer Wednesday, when the tradition of the Vacaville VIP day resumes after a long hiatus.

May 16 marks the first VIP Day in the city in about a decade. The red carpet will be rolled out for approximately 225 professionals from Sacramento to the Bay Area.

VIP Day stood for Vacaville Industrial Parks Day, thus the double entendre, according to Sandy Person of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, who has been involved with the event from the start. Person described it as "an innovative way to invite top-level brokers, developers and real estate executives to see the wonderful opportunities Vacaville has to offer."

She added, "It has had real success in its run."

The event is a cooperative effort comprising the city and the Chamber of Commerce, the Solano EDC and a number of private businesses. A steering committee has put the event together.

Explaining why a VIP Day had not happened for so long, Person said the steering group has spent its time and resources over the past several years creating, an online property database used by real estate brokers charged with finding new homes for companies and industries.

"We wanted to be part of the online culture," she said, adding, "I don't think the group decided it wouldn't do (VIP Day). It decided we needed to take a break."

City Economic Development Manager Mike Palombo said, "The people who organized were a little fatigued by it. The return (on investment) for the time and energy put into it just dwindled."

In 2007, Palombo said, "There is something to show" in Vacaville. What might have been works in progress as recently as a year or two ago have become community assets.

"A lot of things have changed in Vacaville in 10 years," Palombo said. "There is a lot of curiosity in the real estate world about what has been done and what is left to do."

After 10 years, Person said, "Vacaville has such a great story to tell." She referred to "magnificent growth and economic development" that includes but is not limited to the Genentech expansion, the new Nut Tree, Kaiser and the State Fund project.

A bus tour will take guests past these hot spots and others, starting at the Market Pavilion in the Nut Tree Development and proceeding to downtown sites like the police station and town square, as well as the Vaca Valley Business Park, the Lagoon Valley area, the factory stores and various areas of growth and expansion.

Palombo said, "the focus is on commercial and industrial property," adding, "The tour will go through all of the industrial parks and major retail areas."

Committee Chair Patsy Van Ouwerkerk said the tour should last around an hour and a half. After a gourmet luncheon, guests will hear from real estate developer Luis Belmonte of Seven Hills Properties in San Francisco. His firm develops neighborhood retail centers and multi-family residential properties.

Approximately 3,000 invitations were sent out, and the last RSVP date was May 10. Registration begins Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and is followed by a continental breakfast and a welcome address from Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine.

Literature for the event encourages visitors to "follow the leaders," and see for themselves why companies like Genentech, Johnson and Johnson, Mariani and State Fund have located in Vacaville.

"The purpose is to better acquaint them and get them connected," Person said, "and show them that Vacaville is a great place to do business."

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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