Thursday, September 27, 2007

SCC Satellite Now In Orbit At Dixon High

SCC Satellite Now In Orbit At Dixon High
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

Dixon high school students can get a jump start on their future with the opening this fall of a Solano Community College satellite campus at the new school.

Starting Oct. 16, the first course in the satellite curriculum - Business Communications - will be offered from 6 to 8:50 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays for two months.

Only the one class is being offered this fall to to get the program going, but for the spring semester seven classes will be offered including, Introduction to Human Biology, Career-Life Planning, Introduction to Criminal Justice, ESL Basic Oral Communication Skills, Principals of Economics, Intermediate Algebra and Elementary Statistics.

The college courses offered at the community college satellite are open to the entire community at $20 for each unit.

High school students, however, will be able to take the courses free with the permission of the principal and their parents.

The students will still have to pay for books and other materials needed for the class.

Students also will be earning dual credit for high school and college.

"It's a great opportunity in your own backyard," said Interim High School Principal Ivan Chaidez, at an assembly for all the juniors and seniors at Dixon High School.

"We're very excited about this. The students will be able to get college experience before their first day at college. It's two for the price of one."

"We can give you the tools you need to get to the top and stay at the top," said Michael Garnier, professor of business at the community college.

"You can earn more than three times those with minimal literacy skills."

High school students who take 12 credits of college study before graduating will have their first semester of college out of the way.

"It helps so much that it is free," said Cristian Camarena, a senior interested in becoming a pediatrician. "I want to have a good job and this will help."

The satellite campus also will help Beatriz Del Toro, who is also a senior.

"I'll be able to get the credits I need to start the nursing program," she said. "I won't mind taking the classes after school, I'll just have to balance it with work."

Courses offered at the Dixon campus will be included in the Solano Community College course catalog in the spring.

Melissa Murphy can be reached at

Hospital's Expansion To Prevent Headaches

Hospital's Expansion To Prevent Headaches -- New Surgery Center In Vacaville To Be Unveiled Saturday
By Ines Bebea

Communications technician Lori Sullivan runs wire inside a room where colonoscopies will be performed at the new out-patient surgery center at VacaValley Hospital on Wednesday. (Photo by Zachary Kaufman)

VACAVILLE - Before VacaValley Hospital opened its doors 20 years ago, NorthBay Healthcare members had to drive to Fairfield for their medical needs. The distance wasn't that great, but the thought of patients having to battle traffic on Interstate 80 was a giant headache.

NorthBay decided to give its Vacaville patients a hospital to call their own. Twenty years after its doors opened, VacaValley Hospital is again poised to change how patients receive care in Solano County.

"As traffic on the freeway got worse, the idea was to offer patients an alternative location where they could receive care," said Joanie Erickson, director of public relations for NorthBay Healthcare. "Our latest expansion is going to once again ease the demand on our services and shorten hospital stays for our patients."

With its anniversary celebration scheduled for Saturday, VacaValley, the sister hospital of NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, will unveil its new $15 million surgery center. Tours for the center will be available to the public, as well as free health screenings and other activities.

The new surgery center will handle 80 percent to 85 percent of surgeries that do not require hospital stay, as well as offer new treatments for pain relief and chronic pain. The 12,000-square-foot building features three operating rooms, three procedure rooms and two rooms for pain management procedures.

"Advancements in technology now allow us to minimize the pain, hospital stay and recovery period for our patients," Erickson said. "Twenty years ago, having your gall bladder removed required major surgery. Now, it can be done through minimally invasive procedures that leave less scarring and heal quicker."

The new surgery center will be adjacent to the 50-bed hospital, where operations that cannot be performed on an outpatient basis will continue, Erickson said. The hospital handles 2,800 admissions and 22,000 emergency room visits annually.

"In our short-term plan, we hope that by 2009, we will have a cardiac surgery room in the Fairfield hospital," Erickson said. "Patients needing cardiac procedures have to travel outside of the county to receive that kind of specialized care, and that's another avenue for us to grow."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

At a glance
What: VacaValley Hospital turns 20
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: 1000 Nut Tree Road, Vacaville

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

CMA To Begin Construction On $15.1M Residence Hall

CMA To Begin Construction On $15.1M Residence Hall
Times-Herald staff report
Vallejo Times Herald

With some students living on board the Golden Bear training ship and others living off campus, California Maritime Academy is in dire need of more dormitories, the school says.

Construction of a new $15.1 million residence hall will soon get underway to help meet that need.

When completed in 2009, it will provide campus living space for 132 more students, said spokesman Doug Webster.

CMA's current residence halls can house just under 450 students while nearly 70 more live on board the training ship, Golden Bear. Several hundred more students live off campus.

Student housing fees will finance construction of the new hall which is slated for a parcel on the upper campus, across from the school's Bodnar Field athletic area.

Students living on campus now pay about $2,000 per semester, said CMA budget officer Steve Mastro.

Those fees are slated to increase soon by at least 5 percent, he added.

Construction of the three-story stucco-faced structure will begin in 2008, with completion targeted for the start of the 2009-2010 academic year, Webster said.

Council Unanimous In Approving Hotel Proposal

Council Unanimous In Approving Hotel Proposal
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

The Dixon City Council gave a unanimous thumbs up Tuesday night to construction of a Comfort Suites Hotel on Dorset Drive.

After a two-hour public hearing on the project, the council voted 4-0, confirming the design review, the final step in the approval process.

The hotel will be a 43,654-square-foot, three-story building with 80 units on a two-acre site just west of the Arco gas station in an area zoned highway commercial.

"It seems to be the best deal for this property," said Councilman Steve Alexander.

During the public hearing, the proposal for a hotel did not come without opposition.

Several neighbors next to the property expressed their disapproval of a hotel development, including Mark Slight who had appealed the Planning Commission's recommendation of approval.

"No, we are not against development," Slight said. "We want a residential compatible development that encourages quality growth."

Slight and 61 other neighbors had signed a petition against the particular development.

"I'm not alone," Slight said. "Please take what these people say into serious consideration - that this is not the right venue for a hotel."

The adjoining residential neighbors also have had a great concern for the safety of their neighborhood as similar type businesses typically bring with it transients, noise, theft and burglary, according to neighbor Maria Andrews.

A business such as a hotel is almost unheard of in a residential neighborhood and definitely will have a negative impact on the existing residents' property value, she said in a letter.

Rich Waller of Shook and Waller, LLC, proposed the hotel development. A fast-food restaurant and a retail outlet had been proposed for the same site.

"Our original proposals received a lot of opposition," Waller said. "The proposal before you today, we are very happy with. This is a permitted use, a quiet use completely within the zoning."

Melissa Murphy can be reached at

Rockville Estates Put In Limbo

Rockville Estates Put In Limbo
By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer

For the fourth time in less than a year, a decision has been delayed on whether to alter the county's general plan to allow a controversial development in the hills near Green Valley.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to revisit the issue at a future meeting in order to allow county staff and the developer to address concerns and questions about the 1,600-acre subdivision.

Supervisor Barbara Kondylis voted against the delay because she is against the development.

"I think this project should go away and we should not spend any more county resources on it," she said.

Before the board votes on altering the general plan to allow certain aspects of the development, some answers about the project must be addressed, the board said.

At issue are four wastewater treatment ponds that are proposed for the east side of the property. Because those ponds would be directly uphill from some neighbors, concerns have been raised about flooding.

There have also been questions about how two large wells on the property would affect the water supply of surrounding homes.

At Tuesday's meeting, county staff urged the board not to set a specific date to revisit the issue in order to avoid another delay. Six months was suggested as an alternative.

Christina Lawson, a consultant with the developer, was on hand and echoed staff's desires.

"I think nine months is more realistic," Lawson said. "We would prefer an open-ended agenda because we've been here four times now."

Supervisor Jim Spering voiced his concerns about not setting a date.

"I don't support an open-ended agenda," Spering said. "Why not just give it a year. What's the harm in that?"

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

Monday, September 24, 2007

20 Years Of Caring

20 Years Of Caring
VacaValley Hospital Celebrates Anniversary With New Facility
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

VacaValley's new surgery center will be opened for tours Sept. 29. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

Pat Hayes remembers coming to visit VacaValley Hospital right before it opened in June of 1987. "It was just a big empty shell," she recalls.

Hayes, a registered nurse, came to work at VacaValley's emergency room after spending several years at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield - known back then as Intercommunity Hospital. She said she wanted to be part of something new, and knew that it wouldn't be easy.

"When you're starting from scratch, you're making the beginning," she said. "That's the biggest challenge."

Employees like Hayes are looking back at that beginning as the hospital celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Much has changed in the past two decades. As the city grew, the hospital saw more patients and began offering more services. Its latest additions include a new emergency department, a joint replacement center, and an outpatient surgery center scheduled to open in November, all with the latest technology available in medicine.

Back in 1987, the biggest challenge was getting people to understand the need for a hospital in Vacaville, and believe in the hospital's ability to succeed.

"People thought that Vacaville wasn't ready for a hospital," said Joanie Erickson, spokesperson for NorthBay Healthcare, parent company of VacaValley Hospital and NorthBay Medical Center. "We had a hospital in Fairfield and people in Vacaville were used to coming to it. A lot of nay-sayers said Vacaville wasn't big enough or sophisticated enough for its own hospital."

What led to success was a growing community, a need to relieve NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, and - Erickson said - a general shift in attitude.

Today, the hospital has much to be proud of. The 10,000-square-foot emergency department features separate urgent and non-urgent sections, a private OB-GYN suite, and a cast room, just to name a few. The Joint Replacement Program is specially designed for people undergoing knee and hip joint replacements, and focuses on education prior to surgery and a group approach to recovery. The 12,000- square-foot Surgery Center features three operating rooms, three procedure rooms, and two rooms for pain management procedures, as well as private pre-op rooms and recovery rooms.

But the 90,000-square-foot hospital has seen more than just physical changes. NorthBay Healthcare spokesperson Joanie Erickson said new technology has meant less overnight stays and shorter recovery times for patients. As the community grows and nearby traffic increases, the hospital has seen more patients and more crime-related and traffic-related injuries, with 1,700 hospital admissions just last year.

And, with the Baby Boomer generation aging, more of those patients are older and sicker.

"That's a big challenge," said Erickson, who added that VacaValley is one of many U.S. hospitals struggling to find beds for all its patients. Finding staff can also be difficult, according to Erickson, because of a growing nursing shortage and long waiting lists at nursing schools.

Despite some of the challenges, VacaValley Hospital continues to serve thousands of patients a year. It competes with two larger healthcare organizations - Kaiser and Sutter, both of whom continue to expand their offerings. Erickson said VacaValley Hospital differentiates itself from the other organizations by offering advanced services at its hospital.

"If you're Kaiser or Sutter, advanced services patients are often sent to facilities in Sacramento or San Francisco," Erickson explained. "Here at (NorthBay Healthcare) we only provide local care. We believe in investing in the technology here and the services here because we're only here. That's why we offer a lot of things that aren't offered elsewhere (in Solano County)."

What the future holds for VacaValley Hospital is still unclear, although Erickson indicated growth will continue to be part of the plan. The 20-acre parcel on which VacaValley is built leaves room for growth, and Erickson said that as the community continues to grow, the hospital may add more patient care wings and other services as technology becomes available.

"When the hospital was built, it was built to grow," she said."

Contact Shelly Meron at

If you go
WHAT: VacaValley Hospital's 20th anniversary celebration; the event will include free health screenings, medical demonstrations, music and entertainment, children's activities, prizes, refreshments, and tours of the new Surgery Center.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29
WHERE: VacaValley Hospital, 1000 Nut Tree Road, Vacaville
DETAILS: 429-7789 or

UCD Researcher Gets Hefty Grant For Tobacco Study

UCD Researcher Gets Hefty Grant For Tobacco Study

A University of California, Davis, researcher has received a three-year $270,000 new investigator award from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program to study how tobacco exposure initiates complications in the lungs, leading to severe inflammatory response and chronic obstruction of the lungs.

Ayala Luria, a staff research associate in the laboratory of entomology professor Bruce Hammock, said her grant, "Oxylipin Mediators Prevent Smoke-Inducted Lung Inflammation," aims to "investigate the mechanism of action and regulatory pathways of pulmonary inflammatory-associated disease, to understand its cause, and to develop an effective treatment to prevent it."

Her research addresses a significant cause of global morbidity and mortality: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). "This disease and its complications," she said, "are expected to become the third leading cause of death by the year of 2020."

"In our laboratory ... we found that increasing endogenous levels of anti-inflammatory mediators significantly reduce the inflammatory response," Luria said.

She further explained that "these mediators are products of arachidonic acids - polyunsaturated fatty acids with an oxygen ring - that have strong biological activity. We increase their intracellular levels by inhibiting their degradation - by the enzyme soluble epoxide hydrolase - or by molecular approaches."

Luria said the project aims to answer "an urgent demand for therapeutic involvement that will control the underlying inflammatory and destructive process" of COPD. Even when COPD patients with long tobacco use quit smoking, the "inflammatory response of many COPD patients doesn't resolve with the cessation of smoking," she said.

"We are using 30 years of knowledge of Dr. Hammock to make it applicable for a future cure."

Luria will work with Hammock and consultants Kent Pinkerton and Alan Buckpitt of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, who previously provided guidance, training and resources.

Luria received one of five new investigator grants awarded this year by TRDRP.

She has a master's degree and doctorate in molecular biology and biochemistry from the Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.

Benicia Bridge Makes Commuting A Breeze

Benicia Bridge Makes Commuting A Breeze
By Barry Eberling

Doug Burke of Suisun City has enjoyed zipping through the new FasTrak toll booths on the new $1.2 billion Benicia Bridge. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - Doug Burke is among the local Interstate 680 commuters who give the new $1.2 billion Benicia Bridge and its high-tech toll plaza rave reviews.

"Since it's opened, I have experienced no delays at all," the Suisun City resident said. "It's a dream going across the Benicia Bridge."

Crossing the Benicia Bridge during evening rush hour used to be a nightmare for commuters heading from Contra Costa County to Solano County. Traffic sometimes backed up for several miles.

But the new span, open for about a month, exclusively serves northbound drivers. The 1962 span no longer serves drivers going in both directions, but only those heading south.

Those extra lanes have made a difference.

"That's a real nice commute now," said Burke, who does sales work across Contra Costa County. "It's really sweet."

Vacaville resident Cori Zimmerman works in Walnut Creek. She usually reaches the new bridge during her return commute at 3:20 p.m.

No longer does she lose time waiting in a long line of cars and trucks at the bridge. What was a 75-minute trip home is now some 20 to 30 minutes shorter, depending on the day.

"I just love the new bridge," Zimmerman said.

Gilda Laforga-Graham of Suisun City makes the evening commute from Concord a couple of hours later than Zimmerman. She can now complete her trip home in about 40 minutes, compared to about 75 minutes before the new bridge opened.

The new Benicia Bridge also has the first toll plaza on Bay Area bridges that records FasTrak drivers moving at freeway speeds. At other bridges, FasTrak drivers must slow to about 25 mph.

FasTrak is a system that uses transponders in the commuter's vehicle. The toll is automatically deducted from a prepaid account. On the Benicia Bridge, that electronic deal is made at 55 mph and faster.

"Zip through, no waiting," Burke said.

The complaints have nothing to do with the bridge itself, but with other drivers near the toll plaza. Some stay in the FasTrak-only lanes until the last minute, then cut to the slower-moving cash lanes, either from confusion or in an attempt to save a little time. Both Laforga-Graham and Zimmerman have seen this happen.

"I almost got hit," Laforga-Graham said.

Building the new bridge proved difficult. Workers discovered vibrations from driving dozens of steel piles into the ground beneath the Carquinez Strait ruptured the swim bladders of fish. Caltrans solved the problem by putting a screen of bubbles around the piles to deaden the vibrations, but that took time and money.

Although the bridge was several years overdue and doubled in price since 2000 estimates, the results seem to be worth it to commuters.

"A-pluses for Caltrans and the workers out there," Burke said.

If the new Benicia Bridge gets cheers, the Cordelia interchange and Interstate 80 some 12 miles down the road get the same old raspberries. People driving from Contra Costa County to central Solano County still hit these familiar bottlenecks.

"That's where they're probably going to have to take another look," Zimmerman said. "Everybody funnels over the bridge faster, so they get to the 80-680 (interchange) faster."

Local transportation leaders feared that by eliminating the Benicia Bridge bottleneck, congestion would worsen at the next bottleneck on the freeway - the Cordelia interchange. That seems to have happened, if only to some extent.

"Friday, it's really ugly, but it was ugly before on Fridays as well," Burke said. "I haven't noticed that much of a difference. There's maybe a little more traffic there, but I can't say it's profoundly worse. It's always been a pain in the neck."

Laforga-Graham finds there are good days and bad days.

"We need to do something about the interstates 680-80 merge," she said.

County Supervisor Jim Spering sits on both the Solano Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. He has also seen congestion at the interchange since the new bridge opening, but no huge increase.

"It's not backed up initially like we predicted," he said.

Spering sees more traffic on I-80 near the interchange, with all of the traffic weaving in from I-680. And he predicted it will just be a matter of time until the Cordelia interchange backup on Interstate 680 worsens.

Fixing the interchange could cost as much as the new Benicia Bridge span, more than $1 billion. Spering said the project could be 10 to 15 years away.

Meanwhile, the new Benicia Bridge span is playing havoc with Burke's global positioning satellite map system. The system doesn't yet know the span exists. It shows Burke as driving through the waters of the Carquinez Strait.

But it shows him making the watery journey at a fast clip, instead of waiting in traffic.

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

Reader e-mails on the Bencia Bridge

"Not having to putt up to the toll plaza and being able to whiz by at the legal speed limit has improved the commute 100 percent."
- Patricia Cooper, Fairfield-Suisun Transit System bus commuter

"I commute via vanpool from Fairfield to Pleasanton every day and I am now very happy that the bridge is finally open. It has knocked at least 15 to 20 minutes off of our commute time in the afternoon (which takes two hours on most days)."
- Susan Patterson

"The engineers and designers really thought this one out. It was money well spent. The new FasTrak lanes make the bridge crossing effortless."
- Pamela Norton

"The new bridge has definitely improved the traffic in Martinez along 680. I used to go through the refineries to avoid the 680 as long as possible, getting on the freeway at the last entrance. Now, that way slows me down."
- Karen Churchill

Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome To Wonderland

Welcome To Wonderland
Vallejo Park To Host Grand Re-Opening
By J.M. BROWN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

Eddie Nuno, 11, of Vallejo spins his sister, Susanna, 2, in one of the teacups surrounding the refurbished Teapot at Vallejo's Children's Wonderland park. GVRD had a preview opening for the park Thursday evening in advance of Saturday's grand re-opening festivities. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

Although the renovated Children's Wonderland hosts a larger-than-life Brontosaurus, climbable train station and huge new swing set, its biggest feature is completely invisible - imagination.

Every play station in the newly restored park is a portal to a different fantasy land.

The iconic teapot and new twirling cups are the centerpiece of the park's original Alice and Wonderland theme, while the nearby artifact-filled Dinoland sandbox with interactive pebbled brook set a Flinstone-esque scene.

Perhaps more than anything, however, the $2.5 million restoration makes a statement for GVRD that - despite numerous setbacks - good blueprints, dedicated fund-raising and smart execution eventually do bring a plan to life.

"This gives us our street cred," the grinning GVRD director, Shane McAffee, said as he proudly strolled the grounds during a special preview party Thursday. The park will be unveiled to the public during a "Grand Re-Opening" Saturday and Sunday.

Longtime Vallejoans remember the park's golden days of the 1960s, when kids played in the classic tea pot, castle and magical Cinderella carriage built by high school students.

But the 4-acre park fell into disrepair decades later, until the Greater Vallejo Recreation District created a plan to bring it back to life.

A. Chester Humphreys, former board member, recalls many meetings when "We wondered whether it was going to open." Now, he said as he played with 3-year-old grandson Anthony, "Here it is."

The years-long project got underway in earnest nine months ago, when local artists and technicians installed the teacups, Vallejo Station and Children's Wonderland Hotel climbing stations, and Dinoland adventure area.

They also restored the park's original features, like the teapot, castle, fire truck and carriage. GVRD also planted trees and laid down rubber playground flooring - made of recycled tires - to increase safety around climbing equipment.

There are also several new picnic tables for public use, and stone walkways that lead in a circle around a new grassy center.

Longtime residents Don Demmon, nephew of former mayor George Demmon, and wife Barbara, said they were impressed with the park's revived look.

"It was so trashed before, it was a crime," Don Demmon said.

Because kids tend to get bored at parks with inanimate equipment, artist Tom Arie Donch, who created and built the new Dinoland area featuring the Brontosaurus, said, "With sand and water, kids will be here for hours."

But the tea pot, after all these years, is still the park's focal point. Kids climbed in and out of its belly, peeking out its little windows and gliding down its new slide.

Ray Regan, who painted colorful flowers and other designs inside the tea pot, said the structure only holds its magic if children have something to do or look at on the inside. He sought to give children the feeling that, "When you're inside, you're outside," he said.

Vallejo dad Jose Avalos, who brought 9-year-old daughter Marissa to test out the park Thursday, may have a hard time tearing her away during future visits.

"It's good for kids, good for the community," Avalos said.

Humphreys agreed, saying, "Vallejo needed someplace like this."

Sophia Padilla, 5, of Vallejo sits behind the wheel in the Children's Wonderland firetruck with her cousin, Amber Estrada. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

E-mail J.M. Brown at or call 553-6834.

Barrier Installation Under Way On Highway 12

Barrier Installation Under Way On Highway 12
By Barry Eberling

Trucks pass by a concrete barrier on Highway 12 near Scally Road Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Brad Zweerink)

SUISUN CITY - A concrete median barrier is being installed along a 5.5-mile stretch of Highway 12 near Suisun City to stop head-on collisions along the perilous roadway.

The state Department of Transportation is in charge of the project, which started Monday. Its contractor is putting in the barrier from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and could be at work until Nov. 2.

Only one lane will be open in this area during evening and nighttime hours, Caltrans spokesman Keith Wayne said. That means only one direction of traffic can go at a time.

Caltrans is expecting delays of as much as five minutes.

"So far, they haven't had any backup," Wayne said Wednesday.

The barrier is being installed between Walters and Lambie roads. Workers are bringing in precast sections and bolting them to the road.

They can't install a concrete median barrier east of Lambie Road because Highway 12 is too narrow there. But they are to install flexible plastic median posts every few feet between Lambie Road and the area near Highway 113. These will be the same as the posts installed a few months ago along the western Rio Vista stretch of the highway.

When the work is completed, either the concrete barrier or flexible posts will be up along an 18-mile stretch of Highway 12 to discourage passing, except in passing lanes.

Caltrans announced last spring that it would spend $4.4 million in immediate Highway 12 improvements. That followed a string of fatal injuries along the two-lane highway, much of which has substandard shoulders and rolling hills.

Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to sign state legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, to establish this stretch of Highway 12 as a double-fine zone.

The Legislature passed the proposal on Sept. 12. Wolk said Schwarzenegger has until Oct. 12 to veto it, sign it or simply let it become law.

On Wednesday, Wolk said she is optimistic Schwarzenegger will sign it "We've been working with the governor's office from the very beginning," Wolk said.

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

Report Weighs Impact Of Wal-Mart Proposal

Report Weighs Impact Of Wal-Mart Proposal
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - A proposed Wal-Mart Superstore in Suisun City will create more traffic, but it won't create more crime, threaten Travis Air Force Base or kill other businesses, according to a draft environmental impact report released Thursday.

More than a half-dozen intersections around the superstore's site at Walters Road and Highway 12 need to be improved by the time the store opens, the 400-page document said.

If not, more cars using those roads to get to and from the store will mean longer waits at stop lights and turn lanes.

The retailing giant proposes building a 214,919-square-foot Superstore on the 20.8-acre triangular site located just north of Highway 12 and just west of Walters Road in 2009.

Wal-Mart also plans to build a sit-down restaurant and a gas station on the western and southern corners of the site, respectively.

Opponents of the store are dubious of the document's findings but said they will examine all the documents closely before making any public statements.

"I have just gotten a cursory look at it," said Dwight Acey of the Suisun Alliance, which opposes the store. "We have not had a time to go over it thoroughly, and we will take our time and go methodically through it."

Wal-Mart's impact on traffic will be especially felt at a half-dozen intersections around the site that will require improvements, according to the draft EIR.

The worst of those are five intersections along Highway 12 at Emperor Drive, Walters Road, Sunset Avenue, Marina Boulevard and Woodlark Drive; and two intersections on Walters Road at Air Base Parkway and Pintail Drive.

Suggested improvements mainly involve putting in additional turn lanes or extending existing turn lanes.

Wal-Mart's arrival would only primarily affect the city's other food and general merchandise stores such as Raley's and Rite-Aide, the report said.

The report estimated both stores would lose 16 percent of their business the year Wal-Mart opens and another 9 percent the following year, but it denied that Wal-Mart's arrival would force those businesses to close.

Such a drop in business for smaller food or general merchandise stores could cause them to close, the report said.

The report further denied that Wal-Mart threatened the existence of the base commissary on Travis.

The city's redevelopment agency stated in the draft EIR that Wal-Mart's arrival could attract customers from out of town who would patronize other local businesses.

This falls into line with the city's efforts to stop the flow of retail spending that Suisun City residents to do in Fairfield. The loss of that money to Fairfield would be fairly insignificant, the report said.

As for police and fire protection, the report stated denied either department would be significantly affected and that the store's security people would be a first line of defense in dealing with shoplifting, thefts and vehicle burglaries.

The draft EIR contends proposed Wal-Mart does not violate the Travis Air Force Base Land Use Compatibility Plan, falling well within the restrictions that the plan sets out for that site.

Opponents stated the superstore would bring more people to the site than allowed by the plan and poses a threat to the base by encroaching on Travis.

Residents have 45 days to examine the draft EIR and submit written comments and questions to the Suisun City Community Development Department at 701 Civic Center Blvd, Suisun City, CA, 94585 or by e-mailing them to

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

How to get your copy of the Walters Road West (Wal-Mart) Project Draft Environmental Impact Report.
-- Copies are available for examination at the Suisun City Hall Community Development Department at 701 Civic Center Blvd., the Solano County Library at 1150 Kentucky St. or at
-- A CD of the report and its appendices can be purchased for $5.
-- A print copy of the report, which includes the CD, costs $75.
-- A print copy of the appendices can purchased from BPS Repographics at 427-1797. A black-and-white print copy costs $163, and a color print copy costs $309.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Benica Council OKs First Street Development

Benica Council OKs First Street Development
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

BENICIA - Construction can finally begin on a First Street development dogged with city appeals.

The City Council Tuesday unanimously passed a settlement agreement to erase legal challenges against the 221 First St. project.

The dispute has pitted former Mayor Jerry Hayes against current Mayor Steve Messina, a partner in the development with his cousin Manuel Lopes. Messina abstained since he has a financial interest.

"We all need to move past this and get on with our lives," said Vice Mayor Alan Schwartzman.

Councilmember Elizabeth Patterson said she hopes all parties can put the issue behind them. "I hope, at the end of the day, it's something we can put in the past and we can enjoy an improved downtown."

No one from the public spoke, though all parties were in the audience. City Attorney Heather McLaughlin said they had signed the accord and all that remained was City Council approval.

The settlement calls for two more commercial buildings on West C Street which will reduce parking spaces. Project proponents will also need to use rip rap along the waterfront to control erosion, though they would have preferred not using rocks.

Further, some planning staff will be required to attend Bay Conservation District Commission training. The city also will forgive some building fees, and not require project backers to undergo lengthy approvals on the C Street commercial areas.

In exchange, Hayes and Friends of Old Town agree to drop all current and not raise future objections against 221 First St.

An injunction against the project came after Hayes and FOOT sued the city this year, charging a building permit was improperly issued. However, the injunction was lifted when Hayes refused to post a bond.

In other matters, about 40 young skateboard riders crowded into Council Chambers to give a strong show of opposition against possible plans to close the skateboard park in Willow Glen Park on East Seventh Street.

Young riders said closing the downtown park would be unfair to many riders who will be unable to get to the new skateboard park opening in Benicia Community Park in Southampton. Parks department director Mike Alvarez said the parks commission earlier made a recommendation to close the Willow Glen skate area when the new X-Park opens.

The council will consider the issue in late October or early November. The new X Park is slated to open Oct. 6.

Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

Shop 'Til You Drop

Shop 'Til You Drop
Despite Long Battle, Shoppers Swarm Hard-Won Wal-Mart Supercenter
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

American Canyon Wal-Mart Supercenter store manager Mike Sellick cuts the ceremonial ribbon at the grand opening of the store on Wednesday. (J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald)

AMERICAN CANYON - There was joy in the Napa Junction parking lot Wednesday as the new, hard-won Wal-Mart Supercenter opened for business.

"We're thrilled. It's been quite a battle," said Pam Wilkinson, American Canyon Chamber of Commerce president.

Several hundred Wal-Mart employees, officials, shoppers and others braved the early morning chill for speeches, thanks and congratulations, before being allowed in for a peek.

The 173,000-square-foot stone and stucco-faced structure, includes a full grocery department, including bakery, produce and meat sections, as well as wine and liquor, home and apparel products, jewelry, shoes, electronics and general merchandise. The 24-hour store also contains nail and hair salons, a vision center, a McDonald's restaurant and a bank, as well as a delicatessen with a sushi bar and a lawn and garden center.

"To be opening the 30th Supercenter in California and the first in the region is exciting," marketing manager Mike Hedges said. Supercenter No. 31 also opened Wednesday, in Lancaster, added regional manager Henry Jordan. Wal-Mart serves about 6.5 million California customers weekly, he said.

Mayor Leon Garcia called it "an exciting day that was a long time coming."

More than two years of political and legal wrangling with Wal-Mart opponents delayed the store's completion, but a final ruling in May cleared the way for Wednesday's grand opening.

The new store replaces Vallejo's Wal-Mart, which closed Tuesday.

Wal-Mart's Supercenter is expected to generate about $600,000 in annual sales tax revenue for American Canyon, said city finance director Barry Whitley.

The new building was designed to reflect the region's railroad history and its proximity to the Napa Valley, Jordan said. Its numerous skylights and automatically dimming overhead lights help reduce energy

consumption and are a particular source of pride, said store manager Mike Sellick, a former Vallejo Wal-Mart manager. He and other Wal-Mart officials noted the floors are made from low-maintenance concrete which requires no special chemicals to clean.

Many of Wednesday's Wal-Mart shoppers said they were just glad it's finally open.

"I love to shop at Wal-Mart," said Joann Alcantara of Vallejo. "It would have been nice to have it in Vallejo, but American Canyon is still close enough."

Eager to peruse the new store's camera equipment, American Canyon residents and bus drivers Harold and Kristina Jones said they're hoping the new giant retail outlet will help thin out the congestion at the nearby Safeway supermarket.

"I get groceries at the Safeway, and they got 20 people in line, no matter what time you go," he said. "And the prices are lower here."

Wal-Mart officials still hope to build a Supercenter in Vallejo's long-vacant White Slough area on Sonoma Boulevard where the Kmart Store once stood, but they face fierce opposition. Many of those opposed to the plan say the "ecologically sensitive" wetlands site isn't suitable for a so-called big-box store.

"I'm hugely disappointed that Wal-Mart was able to shove this down the people of American Canyon's throat," said Joe Feller of Wal-Mart opposition group, Vallejoans for Responsible Growth. "Now they're going to be stuck with a huge bill for widening Highway 29 to accommodate Wal-Mart traffic. It's insane, and I'm glad I don't live in American Canyon because of it."

Feller vows to continue fighting against a Vallejo Supercenter though company officials say they're equally determined to see it developed.

The Vallejo project is "still at the beginning stages," with the city having recently found consultants to produce an environmental review, spokesman Kevin Loscotoff said. The EIR could take up to 16 months to complete, he said. But Wal-Mart is looking no where else in Vallejo, Loscotoff added.

"We're focused squarely on the White Slough project," he said.

AmCan Wal-Mart 7011 N. Main St.
• Sustainable design elements
• 80,000-square-foot grocery department
• Expanded electronics department
• Expanded lawn and garden center
• 24-hour shopping
• 27 full-service, check-out lanes, eight of them express lanes
• Vision center
• Pharmacy
• One-hour photo lab
• Wireless phone center
• "Family Fun Center"

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

Fisher To Take Helm At SCC

Fisher To Take Helm At SCC

Gerry Fisher, who has served as Solano Community College interim superintendent/president since December 2006, has been hired to that position by the SCC Governing Board.

As the new superintendent/president, Fisher will lead the college at least until June 2009.

"The Trustees have enjoyed working with Mr. Fisher over the last year and have noted his talents, leadership, and dedication during that time. Solano College is fortunate to be able to call upon someone with his character and commitment to step into the role of Superintendent/President," said Pam Keith, president of the Board of Trustees in a press release issued late Wednesday.

Fisher said, "I look forward to continuing to work with the Governing Board, staff, faculty and community as the college moves forward at this critical time of expansion.

'We have a number of projects which we are completing,' Fisher said, 'including the Student Services Building in Fairfield set for completion in December 2007 and opening the Vacaville Center which is scheduled for Summer 2009. We are also completing the conversion of our computer software system by March 2008."

"The Governing Board appreciates the hard work of the faculty, staff, community and administration in helping us in the search process for a new Superintendent/President," said Pam Keith, President, Board of Trustees. "Our vote tonight indicates that Superintendent/President Gerry Fisher is the right leader during this transitional period."

Fisher has served the community college district for 35 years. He began his career as a physical education instructor in 1972. During his tenure he has served as the vice president of student services, dean of admissions and records, director of student affairs and athletic director.

Fisher earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education from California State University, Hayward and master's degree in physical education from San Francisco State University.

He was a 2006 Solano Community College Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and the regional representative on the California Community Colleges Chief Student Services Administrators Association Executive Board. He is a past recipient of the Robert Brown Distinguished Service Award for contribution to the California Association of Community College Records and Admissions Officers (CACCRAO) and was President of CACCRAO in 1996.

Solano Community College has a current student population of 12,000 and serves the communities of Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Suisun, Travis, Vacaville, Vallejo, and Winters. Solano Community College has served the residents of Solano County for more than 62 years since its founding in 1945.

For additional information, visit the school's Web site

Group Pushes Pedestrian Projects In Solano

Group Pushes Pedestrian Projects In Solano
By Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - A group of citizens who like to walk are rating priority pedestrian projects for Solano County and its cities, with improvements along West Texas Street in Fairfield and the Rio Vista waterfront among the contenders.

The Pedestrian Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the Solano Transportation Authority. Proposed projects on the priority list will compete for the grants and other money that could make them a reality.

Committee members will vote on a priority list when they meet at 6 p.m. today at the STA conference room, One Harbor Center, Suite 130, in Suisun City.

The committee asked for the county and cities to submit potential projects. It sifted through 25 contenders, with a subcommittee coming up with the proposed top seven projects. Committee chairwoman Eva Laevastu said the projects could make a difference for pedestrians.

"They will provide the opportunity," she said. "Then the question is whether or not you can entice people to actually get out of their cars and walk."

The recommended priority projects are:

-- Rio Vista waterfront improvements. The city wants to beautify its waterfront along the Sacramento River and link it to the downtown with a public walkway from City Hall to the Rio Vista bridge. This could cost more than $2 million.

-- Pedestrian improvements along the proposed North Connector Road that is to link Fairfield's Green Valley area with central Fairfield near Abernathy Road. Ideas include items such as separating bike and walking paths.

-- A bike and walking path in Old Town Cordelia on Cordelia Road.

-- Pedestrian improvements on West Texas Street in Fairfield.

-- A bike and pedestrian bridge in Benicia on State Park Road crossing Interstate 780.

-- A pedestrian crossing at the railroad tracks in Dixon at West B Street, near the future train station.

-- Better paths linking the Vallejo Baylink ferry dock, the ferry terminal building and a proposed parking structure and bus stops.

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

Wal-Mart Report Shows Environmental Impact

Wal-Mart Report Shows Environmental Impact
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City residents will get their first look at how a proposed Wal-Mart Superstore will affect the community when the project's draft environmental impact report is made public today.

The superstore will unavoidably affect the area's traffic, noise, air quality and aesthetics, according to the report, said Ben Hulse, Suisun City's Community Development project manager.

Other impacts on areas such as public safety, city services, urban decay, utilities use and nearby land use can be mitigated.

The store's opponents have repeatedly hammered the project this year, claiming it will congest nearby roadways, increase crime, threaten the future of Travis Air Force Base and kill small businesses.

Supporters state the store will generate much needed retail tax income for the city to offset much of the spending Suisun City residents do at Fairfield stores.

Wal-Mart wants to build a 230,000-square-foot supercenter on a triangle of land just west of Walters Road and just north of Highway 12.

Copies of the draft report will be available for examination at the Suisun City Community Development Department at City Hall at 701 Civic Center Blvd. or at the Solano County Library at 1150 Kentucky St.

It will also be online at probably by Monday, according to Hulse.

Those wanting copies will be charged for printing costs, but the draft report and its even more extensive compilation of supporting documents are also available in CD form for a nominal charge.

Residents will have 45 days to comment in writing on the report.

Send comments to Community Development Director Heather McCollister, 701 Civic Center Blvd., Suisun City, Calif. 94585 or to

The comments and city staff's responses will then be incorporated into a final report, which is expected to go to the Suisun City Planning Commission and then to the Suisun City Council for hearings.

"Depending on the number of comments we get, we are looking at having the final EIR finished by late December at the earliest," Hulse said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Construction Takes Off In Suisun City

Construction Takes Off In Suisun City
By Ian Thompson

Employees from North Bay Plumbing work at the site of the Main Street West Project in Suisun City. Photo by Chris Jordan

SUISUN CITY - A year after Main Street West Partners broke ground on Harbor Square amid much hoopla, construction is finally beginning on the proposed mixed-use development at Main and Solano streets.

The property is expected to have retail businesses on the ground floor and offices on the second floor. It is slated for completion in September.

"We are expecting an announcement soon on tenant leasings," Suisun City Redevelopment Director Jason Garben said.

The news was part of a report Garben gave to the Suisun City Council Tuesday night on how the master developer's projects in downtown Suisun City are proceeding.

The city's Redevelopment Agency hired Main Street West Partners early last year to develop 14 agency-owned sites of varying sizes located around Suisun harbor. Construction is expected to begin next year at two of those sites near Harbor Square, one slated for offices and second-floor apartments and the other that will be a restaurant and banquet hall.

Main Street West also plans to start building a 16-home development on Lotz Way just east of Civic Center Boulevard next year.

Main Street West wanted to start building Harbor Square last fall, but that was before a parade of unexpected roadblocks.

Several sewer, electrical and telephone lines had to be moved, and maps listing where the lines were buried proved to be incorrect. Work crews also uncovered unmapped storage tanks and building foundations that weren't supposed to be there.

"Similar conditions were found at the Crystal (school) site," Garben said.

At the Crystal site, the crews that demolished the school buildings found foundations of previous buildings that dated back more than 100 years and a 1907 oil tank with contaminated soil that needed to be removed.

"It is typical of Suisun," Mike Rice of Main Street West said of the Old Town area. "You don't know what's there until you get there."

Development of the Crystal school site into a residential neighborhood won't occur for three years, Garben told the City Council. That schedule could be shortened by a year, depending on the outcome of the site's environmental review. "That is the earliest that we can start," Rice said.

Councilman Mike Hudson said neighbors have been unhappy with the dust created from the site.

"We have agreed to hydroseed the site and expect to have grass growing after the rains start," said Rice, who added there are also plans to put up screens around the site. Both Hudson and Councilman Mike Segala asked when Main Street West will start developing sites on Main Street's west side and said more needs to be done on that side of the street.

Rice promised there will be more development started on Main Street's west side in the near future.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

UC Davis MBA program gets high marks from recruiters

UC Davis MBA program gets high marks from recruiters
Sacramento Business Journal - 3:15 PM PDT Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The University of California Davis Graduate School of Management was ranked 6th in the nation by recruiters in the telecommunications, technology and Internet sectors.

The Wall Street Journal and Harris Interactive surveyed corporate recruiters on 21 attributes of 4,430 master's in business administration programs.

UC Davis ranked 29th in overall regional rankings, an improvement over its 34th ranking in 2006 and its 44th ranking in 2005.

"We've known how well-prepared UC Davis MBA students are," said Nicole Woolsey Biggart, dean of the Graduate School of Management. "It's gratifying that recruiters continue to recognize our graduates' excellence as well. The past three years of this ranking show real momentum."

Interchange Project Rolls Ahead With Council OK

Interchange Project Rolls Ahead With Council OK
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - The City Council on Tuesday paved the way for North Texas interchange renovations to start construction next spring.

It voted to enter an agreement with the state Department of Transportation for the $24 million project. Fairfield will provide the money and do the building and Caltrans will provide oversight, since the state owns the structure.

Councilmembers quickly approved the item by unanimous vote.

"It's been a long time coming," Vice-Mayor Jack Batson said.

Fairfield will widen the interchange at Interstate 80 to four lanes with shoulders, add a 9-foot-wide pedestrian path and build new eastbound onramps and offramps.

Drivers now heading southbound on North Texas Street from Rolling Hills cannot turn onto the eastbound I-80 onramp, since there is no turn lane. They must turn around further down North Texas Street and double back. That will change with the renovated interchange.

"That will be the single biggest change you'll see," Assistant Public Works Director Mike Duncan said. "You'll have full access."

The project will include 15-foot-tall white columns with the Fairfield logo near the interchange ramps.

Fairfield will also extend Manuel Campos Parkway so the road intersects with North Texas Street at the renovated interchange. Manuel Campos Parkway is ultimately to run all the way from I-80 to Peabody Road, providing a new route to the freeway for the northeast city. Much of the Manuel Campos Parkway is already built, but there are a few gaps.

The city will realign North Texas Street and Nelson Road near the interchange. That will create a dramatically different look, with a few businesses finding what is now the rear entrances to parking lots becoming the front entrances.

Renovating the interchange could take 18 months, with the project to be completed in summer 2009, a city report said.

The $24 million is coming from developer fees and the North Texas Street benefit district. Caltrans is not contributing. The agency wrote in a 2006 letter that it had no plans to renovate the interchange and that the project is being driven solely by the city's interests.

Duncan said $24 million is a top estimate, with a 20 percent contingency for the project.

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

Nut Tree, Travis Could Factor Into Regional Air Travel

Nut Tree, Travis Could Factor Into Regional Air Travel
By Barry Eberling

Rusty Mayes, owner of Power Aviation Services, works on a Cessna 170 at the Nut Tree Airport in Vacaville. (Chris Jordan/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - Having more corporate jets land at Nut Tree Airport or perhaps even civilian planes use Travis Air Force Base are among a host of ideas to alleviate crowding at major Bay Area airports.

Should the local options being considered by the Regional Airport Planning Committee become a reality in coming decades, Solano County could reap financial benefits, county Supervisor Jim Spering said Monday. He sees the Nut Tree idea as the more likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

Committee members will hold a workshop at 6 p.m. today at the MetroCenter, 101 8th St., Oakland. Spering is the county's representative.

Nut Tree Airport could handle corporate jets that otherwise might go to destinations such as the Oakland or San Francisco international airports. Spering said the county-owned airport would need such things as new hangers and infrastructure to realize its potential.

"But you have an existing airport," Spering said. "I would say with a modest investment, you could accommodate these airplanes. It's not like starting new."

Having more corporate jets land at Nut Tree would not only relieve congestion at other airports, it also would generate tax revenue and perhaps attract more corporations to the county, Spering said.

The largest Nut Tree hangar is already home to corporate jets for Copart, the Fairfield-based firm that sells salvaged autos. Other corporate jets land at the airport. Airport Manager Andrew Swanson estimated Nut Tree averages one or two a day.

"As the (major) airports become busier and busier, it's more economical and efficient for the corporate uses to come into airports like the Nut Tree," Swanson said. "We see a lot more of that."

But jets cannot carry a full load of fuel when taking off on the 4,700-foot-long runway because of its length, Swanson said. Adding 900 feet would change that, allowing jets leaving the airport to fly cross-country without refueling, he added.

Money for improvements could come from federal and regional sources, Spering said. There would also have to be a local commitment, he said.

Another idea that has long been around is having civilian uses along with the military uses at Travis Air Force Base. Another runway would be added.

An advantage at Travis is the airspace isn't congested, a Bay Area airport study stated. Possibilities exist for commercials flights to Southern California, international flights and air cargo, it said.

But the study also found hurdles, among them the cost of constructing terminals and the difficulty of international flights making connections with domestic flights, as happens at such places as San Francisco International Airport.

There's also the challenge of fitting in civilian uses in a way compatible with Travis' mission as a military base.

"The military mission is the highest priority," Spering said.

The committee is considering the Travis idea as a "placeholder," to keep the option open, Spering said. No one knows what will happen in 10 or 20 years, he said.

Another idea is to build a North Bay airport. But the study called the concept "highly problematic" because of such things as high costs, environmental concerns and airline economics. There is no identified site.

"To build a whole new airport I think is completely out of the question," Spering said.

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

At a glance
Who: Regional Airport Planning Committee
What: Workshop
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: MetroCenter, 101 8th St., Oakland

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sculpture Sprouts Downtown

Sculpture Sprouts Downtown
By Ben Antonius

John Ballou, a Benicia artist, works on his 'Tree of Life' downtown on Monday. (Mike McCoy/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - Downtown will soon get one more tree - this one made of metal.

"Tree of Life," a sculpture by Benicia artist John Ballou, will be unveiled in the next month after three years in the making.

The design was actually cooked up for another project. Ballou submitted it when the city was looking for a Civic Center art project. He didn't win, but the reviewers liked his proposal enough to ask if they could use it elsewhere.

The project eventually sprouted near the courtyard of the Center for Creative Arts on Texas Street.

"For me, I think it's actually a better location," he said.

The sculpture has a 6-foot concrete base and is made of steel. "Tree of Life" is the first time Ballou has worked with steel. He said is mostly known for his etchings and paintings, and has experience working with bronze.

Ballou said steel was more appropriate for the size of the project.

"I actually thought I could get more back for your buck" with steel, he said. "I wanted something high because I knew it was going into these trees."

He said the 10 or so pieces of the sculpture were assembled in Vallejo. They have been bolted and welded together in Fairfield.

The metal is a type of steel that contains copper and chromium, which help it better handle the elements and retain a natural brownish-red color.

"It's here for the duration," he said.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

Monday, September 17, 2007

Solano Economic Development Breakfast Meeting

Solano Economic Development Breakfast Meeting
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - The Solano Economic Development Corporation will host a breakfast meeting on Sept. 28 to discuss financing opportunities for businesses and infrastructure funds to support local economic development.

The panel of experts will include Bob Thompson, a loan officer for North Bay; Paula Connors, executive director of the California Enterprise Development Authority; Tom Lockard, a managing partner with Stone and Youngberg; and Scot Townsend, city manager for the City of Lindsay.

The breakfast meeting will be held at Courtyard by Marriott in Fairfield. Cost is $25 for Solano EDC members and $35 for non-members. To register, call 864-1855 or e-mail

Friday, September 14, 2007

Calbee To Open Fairfield Plant Today

Calbee To Open Fairfield Plant Today
By Ines Bebea

Calbee America Inc. moved its facility to Fairfield from Sebastopol where it had been for eight years. (Photo by Brad Zweerink)

FAIRFIELD - Calbee America Inc., a manufacturer of healthy snack foods, will have a grand opening for its new 40,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Fairfield today.

The Japan-based company moved it facility from Sebastopol where it had been for eight years.

Calbee America Inc. is a subsidiary of Calbee Foods. Co. Ltd. The Fairfield facility is four times larger than the Sebastopol plant. In the next few months, the company plans to move its headquarters from Torrance to Fairfield.

"The existing transportation system, freeway access and good water supply are what attracted us to Fairfield and Solano County," said Fumie Mihaly, a plant administrator supervisor for Calbee America. "We outgrew our Sebastopol location and we were interested in a facility that better suited our expansion needs."

Calbee America manufactures and distributes snacks such as Snapea Crisp, Shrimp Flavored Chips and other products in the United States and Canada. The company has 45 employees in Fairfield.

"We are pleased that Calbee America has moved to Fairfield," said Curt Johnston, Fairfield's assistant director for the economic development division. "It has joined a significant list of food manufacturers who recognize this city as a choice location because of its room for businesses to grow, superior water quality and supply, and its access to various transportation options."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Calbee America
2600 Maxwell Way

SCC To Christen New Center In Vallejo

SCC To Christen New Center In Vallejo
By Nika Megino

FAIRFIELD - Solano Community College is spreading its wings across the county.

On Saturday, SCC will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new 40,000-square-foot facility in Vallejo. The facility will open to students in October.

It is important for the college to have facilities across the county so students can easily attend courses and avoid having to drive to the main campus in Fairfield, Interim Superintendent Gerry Fisher said.

"We're hoping (the center) will provide much needed local access for residents of the south county," Fisher said. "We think that's going to be a big advantage."

The $22.3 million center, which sits on 10 acres, will house 15 classrooms, two science labs, a conference room, a multipurpose room and a bookstore. The current center in Vallejo, which is located on the lower level of the John F. Kennedy library, didn't feature such amenities. SCC rents space for five classrooms in the library.

Adding the amenities will benefit student learning experiences, said Jerry Kea, director of the Vallejo center.

"It will be a tremendous support to south county residents and offer an opportunity for full-time professional students to gain the education they need," Kea said.

About 600 students take courses at the current center, Kea said. With the addition of seven more classes in the new center, an additional 250 students have registered for late-start courses that will begin in October.

"We've had a tremendous response, a strong response from the community with (late-start) classes," Kea said. "(The center is) going to be a tremendous boost to our enrollment and positive for the college."

A grand opening of the center, located at 545 Columbus Parkway in Vallejo, will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

While construction of one center ends, another begins as designs for SCC's new Vacaville center reach completion. The construction drawings of the center will soon be sent to the Department of State Architecture for approval, Fisher said.

The two-story, 37,000-square-foot building will be built across the street from the current Vacaville center - a rented facility that houses eight classrooms. Features similar to those added to the Vallejo center, such as science labs and a multipurpose room, are said to be included in the Vacaville center.

More instructional space is needed in Vacaville, said Delores Finnerty, the center's extended campus assistant.

"With the growth here . . . I think our campus is going to be extremely busy."

The construction of the Vacaville Center, which will sit on 60 acres, is slated to begin in spring 2008 and be completed by fall 2009, Fisher said.

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ride On! Commuter Update

Ride On! Commuter Update
Director of Transit & Rideshare Services, Elizabeth Richards

Solano enjoys a wide range of transit options: local and intercity bus, ferry, and paratransit services. What may surprise many Solano residents is that these services are operated by their local Cities. The seven cities in Solano operate six different transit systems. The variety of transit operators often cause confusion when traveling between cities and limits transit funding opportunities.

To address these issues, the STA Board is undertaking a Transit Consolidation Study. The goals of this study are: 1) to streamline transit service, simplifying and improving access to transit use for riders; 2) to achieve service efficiencies and economies; 3) to provide a central focus on transit service for the County; and to 4) to create a robust transit service to meet the growing transit needs of the County.

The study was kicked off in the Spring of 2007. Consultants were retained to complete the study which includes extensive outreach to public officials, transit staff, funding partners, and transit users. Over 50 interviews were conducted to identify the opportunities and challenges of consolidating transit. This stage of the study was completed in June.

The consultants presented their findings and six preliminary alternatives to the STA Board in July. The Board approved formation of a Boardlevel Steering Committee to guide future steps of this study. The first phase of the study is nearing completion and two reports will be released by September. The second phase will analyze the six alternatives from several perspectives to evaluate if, and how, consolidation will occur.

Transportation Funding Update

Transportation Funding Update

Proposition 1B, the $19.9 billion dollar statewide transportation bond that was passed by voters in November 2006, has brought severely needed financial resources to Solano County. The I-80/I-680/State Route 12 Interchange failed to land funding from the competitive portion of the bill, called the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA). Local matching funds may be a factor. California Transportation Commission Chairman Jim Ghielmetti said, “You need to locally help yourself before the state will help you.” 86% of California residents pay a voter-approved county sales tax for transportation.

This tone was prevalent as the other 7 Bay Area Counties with a local transportation measure garnered most of the $1.3 billion that came to the Bay Area from this Proposition category. However, the I-80 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes project landed $56 million, while Jameson Canyon Phase 1 landed $74 million in bond money. Both projects are now fully funded. STA‟s next focus is to obtain funds from the Trade Corridor element of the Proposition for the relocation of the I-80 eastbound Cordelia Truck Scales.

Transportation Plans, Programs and Studies

Transportation Plans, Programs and Studies
STA Director of Planning, Bob Macaulay

The STA‟s Comprehensive Transportation Plan – the CTP – takes all of our plans and brings them together into a single document, look-ing at the long-range direction of the county transportation system. The last CTP update was completed in 2005, and that does not seem so long ago. But circumstances and projects can change quickly. For example, the 2005 CTP did not anticipate the Prop 1B funding received for the State Route 12 Jameson Canyon project, and it still considered the possibility of a South By-pass for the I-80/I-680/SR-12 interchange.

In order to make sure the CTP is kept current, we‟ll be updating all three elements of the plan – Arterials, Highways and Freeways; Transit; and Alternative Modes. Once they are up to date, we‟ll look at future ideas to make sure that the entire web of transportation facilities can be built and maintained so that it best works for you.

The local CTP is used to help the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as it develops the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The RTP examines the transportation needs of the entire 9-county Bay Area over the next 25 years. The RTP is scheduled for adoption in early 2009. Projects that are contained in both the RTP and CTP can then receive regional and state funds to help in their construction.

State Route 12: Staying Focused On Safety

State Route 12: Staying Focused On Safety

Safety on State Route 12 grabbed headlines after a horrific March that saw fatal accidents on three consecutive days. Since then, safety efforts have resulted in far fewer accidents and fatalities in April, May and June. Staying focused on SR 12 safety remains at the top of the STA‟s priority list.

An immediate step is en-hanced traffic enforcement. In addition to CHP‟s stepped-up enforcement, a corridor safety grant from the Office of Traffic Safety appears likely, and will provide as much as $1 million for education and en-forcement.

Caltrans has sped up the delivery of safety improvements for SR 12. Shoulder and median rumble strips have been in-stalled, along with message and radar feedback signs. Soft „channelizer‟ median separators have been installed between Rio Vista and SR 113; by mid-October, a concrete barrier will be in place from Walters Road to Shiloh Road.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk and Senator Pat Wiggins have introduced legislation to name a section of SR 12 in honor of Officer David Lamoree, who lost his life in a head-on accident in October 2005, and to designate SR 12 from I-80 to I-5 as a double-fine zone (DFZ). Both bills have been approved by the Assembly, and are scheduled for Senate hearings.

Finally, STA is leading a public education effort to make driv-ers aware of the dangers on SR 12. This includes a safety newsletter, a new safety campaign logo and preparation of public service announcements for local media. Working to-gether, we can reduce dangerous driving on SR 12, and catch and punish those who put others at risk. In order to succeed, we will all need to keep focused on safety.

STA Executive Director's Message

STA Executive Director's Message
Executive Director, Daryl Halls

On June 7th, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) programmed $11 million in state funds to widen SR 12 Jameson Canyon. This was the only Bay Area project to receive these funds and the $11 million completes the funding for the first phase of this project, which will add two lanes and a median barrier on SR 12 from I-80 in Solano to SR 29 in Napa County.

Thanks to collective efforts of Solano Economic Development Corporation, Chambers of Commerce from Fairfield-Suisun, Rio Vista, Vacaville and Vallejo, Highway 12 Association, and various energized Solano County residents, the STA has received support of Caltrans in accelerating the schedule for repaving and resurfacing I-80 from Vallejo to Vacaville, providing interim and short term safety improvements on SR 12 from I-80 to the Rio Vista Bridge, and authorizing the STA to initiate a study for placement of a permanent median barrier on this stretch of SR 12. STA will continue to work with Caltrans to ensure these projects stay on schedule.

I-80 Pavement Rehabilitation Project

I-80 Pavement Rehabilitation Project

Caltrans has begun investing over $140 million on major pavement rehabilitation of I-80 to begin construction in the summer of 2008 between Vallejo and Vacaville. The deterioration of I-80 in Solano County has been significant. This major rehabilitation work will include placing over five (5) inches of asphalt over the existing pavement. As an interim measure, Caltrans completed a $2 million emergency pavement repair project to repair the severely damaged concrete slabs until the major pavement rehabilitation project can begin. Last summer, a similar $2 million emergency construction project replaced over 200 damaged concrete slabs.

This work is being funded with State Highway Operations & Protection Program, better known as the SHOPP. This funding program of the state is comprised of both state and federal funds. The purpose of this funding program is to maintain and preserve investments in the State Highway system and its supporting infrastructure. The major rehabilitation work overlaps portions of the new 8.7 miles of I-80 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in Solano County. This HOV Lane project limits are from Red Top Road to Air Base Park-way. As such, the rehabilitation work is being coordinated within the limits of the I-80 HOV Lanes project, the major pavement rehabilitation work that overlaps the limits of the HOV Lanes project will occur after the HOV lane construction is completed and opened.

SR 12 Widening: Jameson Canyon

SR 12 Widening: Jameson Canyon
By Janet Adams

The Solano Transportation Authority in partnership with Caltrans and the Napa County Transportation and Planning Authority (NCTPA) are working together to deliver the Phase 1 Jameson Canyon improvement project on State Route (SR) 12.

The existing SR 12 has one lane in each direction with no median barrier. It has sections that do not meet current highway standards and consistently maintains a poor level of service in many sections. This Phase 1 Project will widen approximately 6 miles of SR 12 from two (2) to four (4) lanes and construct a concrete median barrier. With a recent series of significant events,the $139 million Phase 1 project is fully funded with construction expected to begin in 2010. Primary funding for this project is from $74 million Proposition 1 B Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA), $49 million State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) programmed by the three partnering agencies, $7 million Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP), and $9 million in federal funds.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Officials Announce Plans To Widen Stretch At Jameson Canyon

Officials Announce Plans To Widen Stretch At Jameson Canyon
By Barry Eberling

Traffic moves along Highway 12 about a mile west of Interstate 80. Officials announced plans to widen the road to four lanes at a cost of $139 million. The plans will be made public Thursday. (Photo by Zachary Kaufman)

FAIRFIELD - California wants to transform rural, two-lane, congested Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon into a four-lane expressway with wide shoulders and a concrete median barrier.

The $139 million needed to improve the 9-mile major link between Solano and Napa counties is available. The California Transportation Commission provided the final

million at its June meeting.

The state Department of Transportation has released a draft environmental study for the project and is accepting comments through Sept. 25.

Caltrans officials are now ready to show their proposals to the public and answer questions. The agency will hold an open house from 6 to

8 p.m. Thursday at Nelda Mundy Elementary School, 570 Vintage Valley Drive.

Caltrans still must do design work and buy right-of-way on about 66 properties, but John Ponte of the Napa County Transportation Planning Agency said that construction could begin in 2010.

Highway 12 can be a traffic nightmare during the worst of rush hours. How much difference a new, improved Highway 12 might make remains to be seen. It would still be bookended by two traffic bottlenecks: The interstates 80 and 680 interchange and the highways 12 and 29 intersection.

"For the folks going from here to Napa, it's going to be a good improvement when it gets constructed," Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said. "But we still need to get 80/680 fixed."

People driving on the renovated Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon would see some big differences. Today's narrow, somewhat winding road looks like something that could serve a sparsely populated rural area, not the average 34,500 autos that use it daily.

The new Highway 12 would be about 2.5 times as wide in some areas, better able to serve the 62,000 autos daily expected by 2035. The days of being stuck behind slow-moving trucks that can't be passed would be over.

Westbound Highway 12 would largely use the two existing lanes and would have a 55 mph speed limit. To save money, Caltrans would wait until another day to smooth out some of the curves and dips.

Two new eastbound lanes would be built to expressway standards and could have a speed limit of up to 65 mph.

All of this comes with a visual price. A road that looks rural would be more like one found in the big city. The sheer increase in pavement would change the ambiance in Jameson Canyon.

Highway 12 would be dramatically different where it hugs the side of hills west of Fairfield. The road is now up against steep, earthen slopes. The upper slopes during storms sometimes drop dirt and rocks onto the pavement.

With the new Highway 12, there would be a deeper cut into the hill. Retention walls as tall as 85 feet would hold back the slopes and prevent erosion.

No homes would have to be removed. But the wider road would mean taking out 549 trees.

Caltrans seeks to reduce the visual changes through such steps as designing the median barrier in such a way as to reduce its mass and color contrast. Those huge hill retention walls could have a decorative stacked rock texture.

The environmental study isn't the multi-volume epic one might expect for a project of this size. Caltrans doesn't consider the environmental effects to be of the magnitude requiring a full-blown environmental impact report.

"That's because it isn't a brand-new road going through a place where there isn't anything," Ponte said. "This is widening an existing road basically through an area that's already developed."

Jameson Canyon has such things as farms, a railroad line and utility lines, Ponte said.

Eventually, the project is to include a new interchange at highways 29 and 12 in Napa, when the money becomes available. The environmental documents show two possible configurations.

Meanwhile, the STA continues preliminary work on a new interstates 80 and 680 interchange. But the agency has yet to identify the more than $1 billion needed for construction.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Moderate Forecast For Solano-Napa Job Growth

Moderate Forecast For Solano-Napa Job Growth
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

The number of jobs in the Solano and Napa county area is expected to grow moderately in the next several months, a new survey reveals.

The latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey shows a net job gain for the area of about 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, said regional director Laura Cole of Manpower Northern California. This compares to the largest gain statewide of 77 percent in the San Rafael area and the steepest drop of 20 percent in both Bakersfield and central Los Angeles, the survey shows.

More local employers expect to hire in the upcoming quarter than plan to lay workers off, Cole said.

"Temporary employment is somewhat soft nationally, but no decline is expected locally," Cole said. "And permanent placement shows signs of picking up nationally and locally."

Most job gains are in sales and manufacturing, she said.

But while finding capable help is fairly easy now, employers nationally expect it to get more difficult in the next few years, Cole said.

"(We) know there's going to be a talent crunch by 2010, mainly because people are retiring and aren't being replaced by people with the same skill level," Cole said.

Manpower, an employment services firm, conducts its quarterly survey to measure employers' intentions to increase or decrease their work force during the next quarter.

The survey has been conducted for 40 years, according to a prepared statement.

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

Ideas Aplenty For The Edge Of Downtown

Ideas Aplenty For The Edge Of Downtown
By Jennifer Gentile /Staff Writer

A rendering shows a vision of the proposal that features retail outlets as well as residential units and offices. (Courtesy drawing)

With a makeover planned for a portion of downtown's perimeter, it was clear Monday that Vacaville residents have no shortage of ideas about how these improvements should be carried out.

The public offered a wealth of suggestions during a workshop at the McBride Senior Center, which drew more than 30 people. Vacaville's Housing and Redevelopment Department hosted the gathering to solicit input for its Opportunity Hill project, which is an effort to revitalize two focal points - the Bush and East Main Street areas of the city.

Leading the meeting were representatives of EDAW, the firm chosen to help plan the development. By the time the workshop ended, facilitators had filled a banner-sized piece of butcher paper with comments, concerns, drawings and other material to incorporate eventually into its master plan.

Jim Ball, one of those present, said it is important for new development "to emulate, somewhat, the downtown area," noting that several of the existing buildings are at least 100 years old. Ball also said he hopes the city "will find one developer who will do it all."

Although she said she is in favor of a parking garage hidden behind other buildings and extending retail opportunities along Main Street, Jan Maguire said, "What I'm really interested in is how it will look." She suggested a variety of heights and textures "so it kind of mirrors what we have downtown already."

Opening the discussion about how much retail should be included and where, Pat Gideon said it should not be located on Wilson Street, which is not wide enough to accommodate it.

Responding to concerns about the market for retail space, and potential competition from elsewhere in the city, Developer Rich Lamphere said, "I think if you have more retail and restaurants, no one will suffer. "

Lamphere has created a rendering of his vision of Opportunity Hill, depicting development of the parcel that includes Bush Street, showing it from the perspective of someone looking down School Street toward McClellan Street.

Lamphere's concept features retail on the first floor, with subsequent floors for residential and office uses. In a written statement, he said his vision is to "build on the success of the what has already been created,

"We've shown a handful of people in the community," Lamphere said, "and everyone who sees it really likes it."

Other speakers said the development should be bicycle-friendly and reflect that Vacaville is a family-oriented city. Housing and Redevelopment Director Cyndi Johnston closed the workshop by thanking the residents for their involvement.

"As we move forward, we encourage you to continue to participate in the process," she said, "so we get a wonderful product we can all be proud of."

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

Monday, September 10, 2007

Construction Continues

Construction Continues
State Insurance Fund Site Moves Forward With New Schedule For Completion
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

With the foundation and walls in place, structural steel work is performed on building number one of the State Compensation Insurance Fund campus currently under construction near the interchange of Interstate 80 and I-505 in Vacaville. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)

Construction is moving along on the multi-million dollar State Compensation Insurance Fund building project in Vacaville, even though completion of phase I has been pushed back by several months.

After competing with several other cities in the state to bring the project to town, city officials said they hope the project will be the first of many large office developments to choose Vacaville.

"This legitimizes the fact that Vacaville is the kind of place these offices can go, because they hadn't been coming here before," said Mike Palombo, economic development manager for the city of Vacaville. "I think we'll see more offices in that area."

The new buildings - three 86,000 square foot buildings in phase I, and two more of the same size in phase II - are being built near the Interstate 80 and I-505 interchange. When complete, the five buildings will employ between 900 and 1,500 employees with an average annual salary of $46,000, according to Denise Burian, real estate manager for State Compensation Insurance Fund.

State Compensation Insurance Fund is a public, non-profit enterprise providing workers compensation insurance to employers in California. Employees at the new facility will be coming from existing offices in Fairfield and San Francisco, and will be working on claims and policy processing, information technology, as well as a customer service call center that is scheduled to be built in phase II.

So, what did it take to bring such a massive project to Vacaville? Burian said the city provided State Fund with incentives that were very appealing.

"When we searched for property, we met with many cities and some counties," Burian said. "Vacaville was one of the cities that offered us incentives to relocate our operations there, and that was very important for the decision-making process at State Fund."

The incentives package boils down to a roughly $2.3 million credit against the development fees the city normally assesses a developer. That credit amount is based on an estimated assessed value of the project.

In return, State Fund agreed to create one job for every 350 square feet of building - or a minimum of about 1,228 jobs for 430,000 square feet - at an average salary of $45,000, excluding benefits. Depending on whether those goals are met exactly, exceeded, or not met in full, the city and developer reconcile the amount of the credit five years after the permits for the project are first pulled.

Burian said the first phase of the project, which was originally scheduled to be completed at the end of this year or the beginning of 2008, is now estimated to be completed next summer. She said the original schedule "was a very aggressive schedule, and we knew that it was going to be very tight." She added that the new schedule was more reasonable and "one which we can meet."

Burian said State Compensation Insurance Fund will look at its staffing needs once phase I of construction is finished, and determine if and when the second phase of construction will begin.

"We anticipate, if necessary, completing construction (of phase II) in late 2010," she said, adding that the possibility of not constructing phase II was "a remote possibility."

Burian would not discuss construction costs for the project, but Palombo said the estimated assessed value of all the completed buildings is around $225 per square foot - or $96.75 million at 430,000 square feet.

With such a large project, energy efficiency is a major priority. Burian said State Fund will apply for certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, and also hopes to beat California's energy efficiency standards by 10 percent. That's why the project includes many environmentally-friendly components, like solar "trees" - solar panels that double as covered parking - which will produce 330 kilowatt hours of electricity; under-floor air distribution; energy-efficient lighting systems that include automatic dimming of lighting near windows; solar roofing, which reduces heat penetration; water-saving landscaping; energy-efficient glazing on windows; and recycling building materials.

Palombo said this was an exciting project for Vacaville, both because of its green building features and because of the economic development doors it may open.

"This is new jobs, new people, new everything," he said.

Shelly Meron can be reached at

Saturday, September 08, 2007

GoingGreen 2007 UC Davis Graduate School of Management is a conference co-presenter

University of California, Davis
September 7, 2007


News media are invited to attend two environment-related conferences at UC Davis on Sept. 10-12 and Oct. 11. News media representatives interested in registration information should contact Sylvia Wright at

GoingGreen 2007 Is Next Monday-Wednesday

Seven hundred people are expected to attend the GoingGreen 2007 conference at UC Davis next Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 10-12, to learn about the most promising emerging green technologies and new entrepreneurial opportunities. They will include CEOs, business development officers, eminent researchers, venture capital and private-equity investors, and leading members of the press and blogging community.

The conference also will be broadcast online, live, at .

Officials of the AlwaysOn Network, organizer of the conference, say the event will bring together "cutting-edge green-tech CEOs and the movers and shakers from the biggest industries on earth … [who are] transforming the global energy, water, agriculture, transportation, construction, manufacturing and resource recovery establishments -- trillion dollar industries."

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management is a conference co-presenter.

The program includes CEO presentations and high-level debates.
AlwaysOn editors will recognize the GoingGreen 100 Top Private Companies, and 30 CEOs from that group will pitch their market strategies to a panel of industry experts.

Speakers from UC Davis will include Nicole Biggart, dean of the Graduate School of Management, and Barry Klein, vice chancellor of the Office of Research.

AlwaysOn is a technology-focused media company founded by one of Silicon Valley's top new-media experts, Tony Perkins. The GoingGreen annual conference is one of its series of executive events, which include the Stanford Summit, AlwaysOn Hollywood and AlwaysOn Media.

The detailed schedule of events and speakers is available at .

More information:

AlwaysOn Network:

UC Davis Graduate School of Management:

* * *

Clean Energy Showcase Is Thursday, Oct. 11

UC Davis and CleanStart will host a one-day Clean Energy Showcase on Thursday, Oct. 11, to explore the region's growing clean-energy business sector, which includes:

* Renewable energy (solar, wind, bio-energy and environmentally-friendly hydroelectric technologies);
* Energy efficiency and demand response (electricity end-use, buildings and grid applications);
* Environment-enhancing technologies (advanced flue gas clean-up, ultra-low emissions generation such as fuel cells, environmental remediation, and exceptionally efficient generation);
* Enabling technologies (power electronics, storage, low-loss cables and wires, sensors and instrumentation, control systems, materials and manufacturing technology, and integrated clean energy applications).

The conference will feature speakers and panels on these topics:

* Market drivers: What is affecting the demand for clean energy and fueling the rapid growth of clean-energy businesses? A look at energy prices, environmental concerns and public policy, from local to global scales.
* Green building market opportunities: What are real-estate developers, architects, wind/solar technologists and others doing to increase energy efficiency and use innovative power generation for office buildings and homes?
* Investing in clean energy: What is happening in venture capitalism, hedge funds and the public markets?
* Scientific innovation and rising companies in the region: Who are the rising stars in wind energy, biofuels, transportation and building climate-control systems?

Following the program, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., UC Davis InnovationAccess will host Entreprefest 2007, a networking reception for those attending the daylong showcase.

CleanStart is an initiative of the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance and McClellan Technology Incubator. Its goal is to accelerate the development of clean energy technology ventures within the greater Sacramento region.

UC Davis InnovationAccess is part of the Office of Research. It provides services that connect campus research to the marketplace and is focused specifically on protecting and commercializing intellectual property, and fostering entrepreneurship within the campus community.

More information:


UC Davis InnovationAccess:

Media contact(s):
* Katie Soffey, GoingGreen 2007, (415) 740-0317
* Sylvia Wright, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704,

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