Friday, March 30, 2007

Partnership HealthPlan Second Best in State

Partnership HealthPlan Second Best in State
By Andrea E. Garcia

FAIRFIELD - Efforts to provide quality care for MediCal recipients lifted Partnership HealthPlan of California to a second-place ranking among health plans across the state.

The California Department of Health Services recognized Partnership HealthPlan for outstanding performance on numerous quality of care measures including childhood immunization status, comprehensive diabetes care and treatment for children with upper respiratory infections.

More than 25 health plans in California were reviewed for the year 2006, focusing solely on MediCal recipients.

"We are very pleased to get this award and we're grateful to the leadership of Partnership HealthPlan for providing resources that give us quality scores," said Dr. Chris Cammisa, the HealthPlan's medical director.

PHP, which was compared with large commercial health plans in California such as Blue Cross, Health Net and Kaiser Permanente, placed at or above the high performance level in six measures. None of the nine measures evaluated fell below the state's minimum performance level.

"This is a good feeling, an acknowledgment of work and it shows what providers have done," said Liz Gibboney, marketing director for Partnership HealthPlan. "Any time you can recognize providers for what they do is a good thing. And I think we do a lot with limited resources."

The plan, which manages the care of more than 85,000 MediCal recipients in Solano, Napa and Yolo Counties, has continued to improve its measurement rates since its first audit in 1999.

It's a result in the number of quality improvement projects, systems of rewarding their physicians and providing information and reports to physicians. But, added Cammisa, there is still a long way to go.

"Compared to other plans across the state we did very good but I think our job, by no means, is finished," Cammisa said. "If you look at the evidence nationally on whether patients are getting services, it's 55 percent and we're a little better, but we have lots of work to do, just as other health plans."

The Partnership HealthPlan of California also manages the care of 2,500 recipients of Healthy Kids and 1,100 Medicare beneficiaries.

Reach Andrea E. Garcia at 427-6953 or



(Fairfield, CA) Hearn Construction has completed the conversion of a Holiday Inn Select into a Courtyard by Marriott, located in Fairfield off of Holiday Lane. Hearn updated 142 rooms, incorporated new landscape and updated the common areas. In order for the hotel to offer its guests a new, fresh and upscale hotel, Hearn remodeled the lobby, lounge, Internet Café, banquet room and restaurant. The hotel also will be offering a full service spa which will be opening this summer.

Hearn Construction’s team working on the project is Project Manger Eric Bolen, Assistant Project Manager Amanda Fuller and Superintendent Chris Sittinger. The Architects is ARC Inc of Benicia and Vallejo, CA.

The owner of the project is Presidio Hotel Group, LLC whom specializes in hospitality management and development. The companies headquarters are located at 1300 Oliver Road, Suite 270, Fairfield, CA 94533; phone 707-429-6000. Additional information is available at

Jill Del Greco, General Manager for The Courtyard by Marriott stated, “We have a fabulous Hotel. Hearn helped bring our property to a whole new level. Along with our design team, Hearn Construction has given us a superior product to enjoy along with our guests.”

Hearn Construction is a full service general contracting firm specializing in hotel, multi-family housing, design/build and commercial projects. Hearn has been serving Northern California from Vacaville since 1978. Learn more about them at

Housing, Shopping Development to be Jail's Neighbor

Housing, Shopping Development to be Jail's Neighbor
By Ben Antonius

FAIRFIELD - The county jail will soon have some company at its lonely corner of Clay Bank Road and Air Base Parkway. A lot of company.

Lewis Planned Communities is nearing the start of a massive home and shopping development called The Villages at Fairfield, which within a decade could surround the jail with stores and 2,000 homes. Meanwhile, Solano County is drafting plans for a dramatic expansion that would more than double the size of the 379-bed building.

The question is whether such plans will cause conflict.


And although jails are not usually what real estate agents have in mind when they say "location, location, location," Lewis officials aren't worried about the project next door, they said.

"From our perspective, we're OK with it," Lewis Vice President Bill Millerup said. "We have looked at the (jail) master plan from well before we started planning and took that into consideration."

The company designed its project to put the shopping, office space and open areas closest to the jail, with homes one-third of a mile from the building, he said.

Even that arrangement is causing some consternation for Fairfield police and city leaders, who don't want to see recently released inmates walk out the front gates and into a shopping center.

"Instead of letting them just walk out the front door, the county (should) give them some sort of transportation to the community they came from," Community Development Director Sean Quinn said. "We just didn't want people walking over and hanging out at the shopping center."


In anticipation of needing extra space and with an eye on the Lewis project, the county in September accelerated its expansion construction schedule. It scrapped a $30 million, 224-bed plan in favor of the current, 512-bed one. It has a higher price tag - $88 million - in part because the security will also be beefed up to allow medium- and maximum-security areas.

The added beds would have been built anyway and doing it at once saves money, county architect Kanon Artiche said.

The county is still circulating a draft plan for the expansion and will likely go public with it by May, Artiche said. If everything stays on schedule, groundbreaking could happen in early 2008, he said.

The Villages project also made it a little more urgent to get things started, supervisors said at the time of the decision. Not only could it be a hassle to have to work around existing roads and homes but future neighbors should know what they are getting.

"After there's a bunch of houses, people will start complaining, 'Why are you building a prison in my back yard?' " then-Supervisor Duane Kromm said.


Among all the people involved in the project, there was little question that something has to be done at the site.

"The need for the Clay Bank project is overdue," Artiche said. "There's an impacted need for additional detention beds within the county."

And on top of the existing ones, the county is concerned more could be on their way.

After losing a crucial court battle earlier in the month, California is running out of options for how to relieve the severe overcrowding of its state prisons. Among the remaining choices: Early releases, which are unpopular at best, and putting inmates back into county jails.

"There are a lot of those (inmates) we don't want out on the road," said Mike Reagan, chairman of the Board of Supervisors. "We . . . have to house these prisoners, and it is (a question of) who can get facilities online in what order. This is not rocket science. We need more jails."

The 512-bed expansion won't be the end of the development of the Clay Bank site, either. The project involves putting in the infrastructure to support the addition of yet another 512 beds.

But with the booming prison population and the prospect of having to house more of the state's prisoners, there is already talk about finding the next site.

Although the Clay Bank site seems to be workable, the county could avoid many of the complications by building any future jails farther from populated areas, Fairfield City Manager Kevin O'Rourke said.

"My thing is 'See your future, be your future,' " he said. "Is the county making long-term decisions that will be beneficial for residents over the next 20 or 30 years? Have they looked around the county areas to say, 'This growth of the jail makes sense, will the next one make sense, too?' "

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

Thursday, March 29, 2007

French Cuisine Comes to Old Main 627

French Cuisine Comes to Old Main 627
By Ines Bebea

SUISUN CITY - The old Main 627 restaurant in Suisun City will soon have a new owner and menu.

Su Song, owner of the Old Post Office Seafood & Grill in Vacaville, plans to open his first restaurant in Suisun City in May. The restaurant will serve his traditional blend of California French food, full of healthy alternatives for calories-counting customers.

"I'm really excited about the location because we are restoring an historic building," Song said. "This restaurant will be smaller than the one in Vacaville, it only sits 45 people. It will give our customers a more intimate ambiance for their eating experience."

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

"Suisun City does not have the kind of food that we offer," Song said. "I think its going to be a great addition."

His menus are for people who enjoy French food, but who want to eat it and be healthy, he said.

"A lot of people love French food," he said. "But French food is very heavy on sauces and butter. We cook French food but we make it lighter. I started cooking it this way, once people started changing their eating habits . This is a formula that worked well in San Francisco, where I was a chef for 20 years."

According to Song, the idea to open the new restaurant came from the many customers who travel from Napa and Fairfield and other cities to eat at his Vacaville establishment. When the restaurant opens, it will employ from 20 to 30 people.

"It's going to be a casual restaurant," Song said. "Our menu is full of quality items, and the location is perfect."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Genentech gives Dixon a boost

Genentech gives Dixon a boost
By Ines Bebea/McNaughton Newspapers

DIXON — If Dixon officials approve plans to build a 140,000-square-foot Genentech research facility here, it will create 160 jobs and raise the city’s profile in the biotech industry.

The proposed facility is expected to be completed and operational by 2010. It would focus its research on oncology, immunology and disorders of tissue growth and repair.

“Dixon is an attractive location because it has available land, it is near our South San Francisco operations and it has a great pool of skilled labor,” said Caroline Pecquet, associate director of communications for Genentech.

“The majority of the positions will require degrees and experience in the bioscience industry, and Dixon’s proximity to the University of California, Davis, campus was also considered.”

Genentech already has a working research facility in Vacaville, but the Dixon facility won’t compete with its operations, Pecquet added. The Vacaville facility, which has an expansion project expected to finish in mid-2007, will continue to be a manufacturing unit.

“This type of facility will bring highly skilled and high-paying jobs to Dixon,” Dixon City Manager Warren Salmons said. “We have been aggressive over the last 10 years in bringing more jobs to our city. It is a great opportunity for our business community.”

For Dave Dowswell, Dixon’s community development director, the research facility will help attract other businesses and employers for a city of 17,179 residents.

“It will make a big difference from a planning standpoint if we have a recognizable company like Genentech in Dixon as we recruit other businesses,” Dowswell said. “I don’t see how having a company like that here would hurt, and it will also give us an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with UC Davis.”

The size of the proposed facility is similar to other existing businesses, he said. Dowswell added that he hopes the staff are hired locally from Dixon and Davis.

— Reach Ines Bebea at

SCC program delivers grads into biotech, pharm fields

SCC program delivers grads into biotech, pharm fields
By SARAH ROHRS, Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Article Created:08/05/2005 12:10:09 AM PDT
For graduates looking for lucrative jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, Solano Community College's biotech manufacturing program is the magic pill to take.

The program is in such demand, the college has hired more teachers, so that as many as 48 students can enroll in classes and laboratories in the fall semester, said David Redfield, college dean of math and science.

Through the biotech manufacturing program, students get full view of the industry starting at the cellular level, then branching out to the business side of pharmaceuticals, and also government regulations on the massive drug industry.

Biotech is not as obscure as it sounds. Redfield said one of Solano's most prominent biotech industries is Anheuser-Busch, which uses various organisms to turn sugar into alcohol.

Jobs in the biotech industry, particularly in drug manufacturing, are in high demand, Redfield said. The fact that Solano County is home to biotech giants Genentech, Chiron and Alza, doesn't hurt graduates seeking work close to home.

"Most of them will have jobs even before they even get their certificates," Redfield said. "The real nice thing is that most of the companies will pay for the continued classes."

Jim DeKloe, director of the biotech program who is known as Mr. Biotech, said the usual student in the program is no kid, but is an average age of 35. Most students already have bachelor degrees in either genetics, biology or chemistry before enrolling in the program where they get more practical skills to enter the pharmaceutical market, he said.

Some graduates go on to Bayer, or BioMarin in Novato. Corporations in other parts of the country, such as Eli Lilly in Indianapolis often recruit Solano graduates, DeKloe said.

To earn a vocational certificate in biotech manufacturing, students must take four biotechnology courses, a basic chemistry course, and complete other prerequisites. In essence, students learn to take existing cells and grow them in vast quantities so that they can extract various elements and make drugs for the health care industry.

Triggered by Genentech setting up shop in Solano, the college's program began in 1997. The biotech giant in Vacaville has numerous drugs in the pipeline, and is continuously responding to demands for newer drugs.

DeKloe said the biotech courses are "designed so closely with industry input that (the program) ends up being exactly what you need to get in."

In layman's terms, Redfield said students learn how to grow cells in large quantities and how to extract from those cells particular molecules that are then used in different industries.

The first course, Principles of Biotechnology, is open to anyone and is taught on the Fairfield campus 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays starting Aug. 22, and in Vacaville on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. starting Aug. 25.

For more information, call Redfield at 864-7000, ext.110, or go to

- E-mail Sarah Rohrs at or call 553-6832.

Mutant Logic completes UC Davis license

Mutant Logic completes UC Davis license
Sacramento Business Journal - 1:13 PM PDT Wednesday, March 28, 2007
by Melanie Turner
Staff writer

Mutant Logic Inc., an angel-backed startup in El Dorado Hills developing technology to streamline circuit design, has completed an exclusive license from the University of California Davis to commercialize the technology.

Mutant Logic was founded by three UC Davis graduate students. The software they've developed is meant to help semiconductor companies reduce the time, cost and risk of circuit design projects, and help them produce error-free integrated circuits.

UC Davis InnovationAccess, which provides services to connect research to the marketplace, helped the company find Jim Schraith, a key initial investor and adviser.

InnovationAccess manages a patent portfolio of 841 inventions and seeks opportunities to commercialize these via licensing.


University of California, Davis
March 28, 2007


Mutant Logic, a new startup software company based on technology invented at UC Davis, has been launched thanks in part to help from UC Davis' InnovationAccess unit. The company recently completed an exclusive license from UC Davis to commercialize the technology and take it to market.

Starting a company from scratch is a daunting task. In addition to negotiating the license, UC Davis InnovationAccess aided Mutant Logic by making key introductions and finding venues for them to get in front of potential investors.

"Mutant Logic is a great example of UC Davis InnovationAccess' focus on supporting startup companies emerging from the campus," said David McGee, executive director of InnovationAccess.

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

Mutant Logic, headquartered in El Dorado Hills, is developing software to check the design of integrated circuit chips. The idea is to help semiconductor companies reduce the time, cost and risk of circuit design projects, and deliver better, error-free integrated circuits to the market, said Ben Mok, one of the founders of the company and an MBA student at UC Davis' Graduate School of Management.

Mok and co-founders Brian Hoblit, also studying for an MBA at UC Davis, and Jorge Campos, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, took part in last year's Little Bang business plan poster competition, run by UC Davis InnovationAccess, and the Big Bang! business plan competition, run by students in the Graduate School of Management.

While competing in the Little Bang competition, they were introduced to a key adviser and investor, Jim Schraith, who was a judge in the competition. Schraith helped them find an office location and initial investors, and to recruit a chief executive officer, Bob Bennett.

Through UC Davis InnovationAccess connections, they presented at the Sacramento Venture Forum hosted by Golden Capital Network in El Dorado Hills in May 2006, and were one of three local company presenters at the December 2006 High Tech Direct conference in Sacramento.

Campos, the scientific founder of Mutant Logic, was a business development fellow at the Graduate School of Management in 2005-6. In the yearlong program, doctoral students in the sciences and engineering gain hands-on experience in developing new business ventures by taking courses alongside MBA students.

"The founders took full advantage of the wide range of UC Davis resources supporting entrepreneurship. We worked closely with them to patent the invention, license it rapidly and under realistic terms for a startup company, and introduced them to critical expertise in our region. Mutant Logic's successful startup is a great example of the UC Davis entrepreneurship model. It's one that we'll replicate many times as we expand the impact of UC Davis-originated entrepreneurship within our region," said McGee.

About UC Davis InnovationAccess

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

Media contact(s):
* Ben Mok, Mutant Logic, (925) 785-7039,
* Meg Arnold, InnovationAccess Business Development, (530) 747-3448,
* David McGee, InnovationAccess, (530) 757-3442,
* Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533,

Our full UC Davis directory of media services and 24-hour contact information is available at .
Need information from campus news archives? The UC Davis News Service database contains past (and current) UC Davis news stories dating to 1991. Go to .
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March 2007


The Sacramento Region continued to post modest job growth in February 2007 with an employment growth rate between the statewide and national averages.

The six-county Sacramento Region posted 1.6 percent job growth in February 2007 with a year-over-year gain of 14,800 jobs. The Region’s job growth has fallen below the statewide average for the past two months due to a recent pattern of slight decreases in job growth since October 2006 and an uptick in the state’s employment growth rates. This recent pattern is a result of slower growth in nearly every major sector in the Region’s economy with Trade, Transportation, & Utilities; Leisure & Hospitality; and Other Services seeing the most significant slowdowns. The Bay Area’s growth rates have consistently exceeded the Sacramento Region since August 2006. Despite a few periods of considerable declines, with the exception of a couple months, the Region has seen job growth above the national average for the past 12 months. For most of late 2006 and into early 2007, the Region has experienced modest job growth.

Like the Sacramento Region, the state posted declining job growth from June 2006 through September 2006 then experienced a brief increase followed by another period of generally decreasing rates. At the beginning of 2007, the state showed a notable improvement, but experienced slower growth in February 2007. Between February 2006 and 2007, the state saw 1.7 percent growth reflecting an increase of 252,100 jobs.

Since early 2006, the nation has experienced a consistent pattern of slightly declining job growth. In February 2007, the nation posted its lowest year-over-year employment growth rate since late 2004 (1.5 percent with a gain of close to 2 million jobs). Over the past year, the nation saw stronger job growth than the state only during three brief periods and has fallen behind again in early 2007.

The Bay Area has experienced a generally increasing job growth trend since April 2006. For the past 6 months, the Bay Area’s employment growth rate pattern has been similar to the state, but with much stronger rates. After a peak in January 2007 of 2.6 percent (a level that the Bay Area hasn’t seen since 2001), the Bay Area’s job growth dropped back to 2.2 percent (with a gain of 61,900 jobs). The Bay Area’s job growth has surpassed both the statewide and national averages since May 2006.

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

Sacramento Regional Research Institute, March 2007

Data Sources: Employment Development Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics

Notes: Sacramento Region includes Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville and Yuba City MSAs.

Bay Area includes the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward MD, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood

City MD, and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara MSA.

Job growth reflects year-over-year Nonfarm employment growth rates.

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

Sacramento Regional Research Institute, March 2007

Data Source: Employment Development Department

The Sacramento Region’s Government sector continued to contribute the most jobs among all major sectors while job losses persisted in the Manufacturing and Construction sectors.

The Sacramento Region’s Government; Educational & Health Services; and Leisure & Hospitality sectors added the most jobs between February 2006 and 2007. These three sectors contributed 11,300 jobs to the Region’s net job gain (about 76 percent). Manufacturing and Construction were the only sectors to experience year-over-year losses (both of these sectors made relatively healthy contributions to the Region’s economy through much of 2005 and 2006). Financial Activities posted positive growth overall, but the Real Estate component continued to see job losses, demonstrating the ongoing drag of housing-related activities on the Region’s economy.

Professional & Business Services; Trade, Transportation, & Utilities; and Educational & Health Services posted the largest job gains in the state over the past 12 months. Together, these three sectors added 159,200 jobs (over 63 percent of the net gain). Manufacturing and Construction also lost jobs at the statewide level, but, unlike the Sacramento Region, Information shed jobs as well.

Professional & Business Services; Educational & Health Services; and Leisure & Hospitality saw the greatest employment gains in the Bay Area with a combined increase of 39,100 jobs (approximately 63 percent of the net gain). Unlike the state and the Sacramento Region, every sector in the Bay Area added jobs between February 2006 and 2007 (this marks the third straight month of year-over-year gains in all sectors).


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Retail Infusion Proposed for Decaying Solano 80

Retail Infusion Proposed for Decaying Solano 80
Vallejo Officials Say Master plan Includes FoodsCo Warehouse
By DAN JUDGE/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

A rundown shopping center in the underserved southern portion of Vallejo may be getting a new lease on life.

A developer has proposed a major makeover of Solano 80, a 1960s-era retail center that has fallen on hard times.

"There currently is a significant market void in the southern half of Vallejo," said developer John Jay with the Jay-Phares Corporation. "Upon completion, this would be 140,000 square feet of retail which we would hope would be the predominant retail complex to serve southern Vallejo."

The nearly 11-acre site that once was home to an Albertsons supermarket sits, as its name suggests, along Interstate 80 off Solano Avenue.

The center now has some smaller tenants surrounding the apparent anchor, a Rite Aid pharmacy now using only a portion of its interior space.

Jay said a master plan has been submitted to the city that calls for all existing buildings to be demolished except the one housing Rite Aid. The drug store would move into a new 17,300-square-foot structure with a drive-through, he said.

Vallejo planning officials said the site plans also identify one building for a FoodsCo warehouse grocery store. On Tuesday, however, Jay and representatives of the Kroger Co. of Cincinnati, one of the nation's largest grocery retailers and owner of FoodsCo, would not confirm its participation.

In addition to those stores, Jay said the new Solano 80 would include a revamped Taco Bell, Anna's Linens, Rainbow Apparel and "a number of other national and regional chain stores."

"We are especially pleased to be bringing a state-of-the-art retail complex to the multi-cultural populace of southwestern Vallejo," Jay said.

Vallejo Development Services Director Brian Dolan said plans for the store have only begun the planning process, and public hearings are not yet scheduled.

He added that there are traffic issues that must still be addressed, including an entrance that may be dangerously close to an Interstate 80 onramp and offramp.

Nevertheless, Dolan said the rehabilitation of Solano 80 would be a significant plus for the city.

"I think it's very important because it's an eyesore, and it's right on the freeway," Dolan said. "It doesn't present itself to the Vallejo community internally very well, either."

Jay-Phares Corporation is a contract developer for Solano 80's Richmond-based owner C. Overaa & Co., which originally built the center.

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

Buckingham Scores at Top in Statewide Testing

Buckingham Scores at Top in Statewide Testing
By Robin Miller/City Editor

Buckingham Charter School's score on the latest Academic Performance Index (API) results, released Tuesday, has landed it on the top level in California - in two respects.
And that may be a performance unprecedented for Vacaville.

First, Buckingham scored at the 10th decile among all public high schools in the state.

Secondly, Buckingham achieved the 10th decile among high schools of similar demographics.

Mark Frazier, the Vacaville Unified School District's Director of Special Assignments, said he believed Buckingham's achievement was a first for the district.

"I don't think we've ever had two 10s before," he said.

The Academic Performance Index (API) ranks 9,400 California schools. API scores originally were released in August and were re-released in the latest report, reflecting minor adjustments based on the inclusion of a few new tests.

The scores, ranging between 200 and 1,000, are given to each public school to reflect student performance on a host of standardized tests. Schools are ranked from 1 to 10 compared with all schools statewide and with schools of similar demographics.

Each spring the state uses the scores to set targets for schools to meet on end-of-year exams. In the fall, the state will report how test scores have changed from the base and whether schools met their targets

In the Vacaville Unified School District, five schools - Alamo, Browns Valley, Cooper, and Orchard elementary schools along with Buckingham - already have surpassed the statewide performance target score of 800.

Though Vacaville and Will C. Wood high schools fell short of the 800 mark, both scored in the 700s, showing marked improvement from past years. Last year, Vaca High ranked in the fifth decile statewide and in the second compared to similar schools. Wood ranked in the sixth decile statewide and fourth compared to similar schools. This year, both ranked in the seventh decile statewide and in the eighth decile compared to similar schools.

"The biggest changes I see are really the ranks of our secondary sites," said Frazier "(Scores) really have come up a lot."

In the Travis Unified School District, all schools have hit the 800 target except Cambridge Elementary and Vanden High School, both of which scored in the high 700s.

In the Fairfield-Suisun School District only K.I. Jones, Nelda Mundy, Suisun Valley, and B. Gale Wilson elementary schools have hit the 800 target. Tolenas Elementary missed the target by just a hair, scoring 799.

In Dixon Unified School District only Tremont Elementary has met the target, scoring an 801.

And in the River Delta School District, which includes the city of Rio Vista, White Elementary, Riverview Middle and Rio Vista High schools each have yet to score an 800 or above.

In the Travis Unified School District, Travis Elementary, Golden West Middle and Vanden High schools were ranked at 10 when compared to similar schools.

In releasing the scores Tuesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said he was "proud" of students, parents and educators in California for showing continued progress in the API scores.

The 2006 Base API results, growth targets, and school rankings are posted at

Transit Requests Received

Transit Requests Received
By Danny Bernardini & Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writers

Funding requests for $14.5 million in transportation projects were submitted to lawmakers in Washington, D.C., by local officials on a lobbying trip during the last few days.

The requests were compiled by the Solano Transportation Authority and STA Executive Director Daryl Halls deemed the trip productive.

"The good news is all five projects have been submitted," Halls said in a phone call from the nation's capital. "That is the first hurdle in the process."

The most money being requested is $6 million to design the relocation of the Cordelia Truck Scales. The movement of these scales is part of the larger project to fix the Interstate 80/I-680/Highway 12 bottleneck that is estimated to cost eventually more than $1 billion.

The group is also seeking $200,000 for traffic safety signs and education on Highway 12 between Interstate 80 and I-5.

Some $3 million to improve the access to Travis Air Force Base is also being requested. The money would go toward the design and construction of both the north and south gates, as well as improvements to the railroad tracks at Cannon and Vanden roads.

Other projects include $3.3 million for a ferry maintenance facility in Vallejo and $2 million for access to the Vacaville-Fairfield Intermodal Station of the Capitol Corridor Intercity Passenger Rail Service, set to open in the summer of 2011. Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, one of four mayors who made the lobbying trip, said an estimated 200 riders are expected to use the service daily at this station initially. That total is expected to increase to 350 or more daily by 2020.

When the service is available, Augustine said, it would offer commuters an alternative to using Interstate 80.

Since arriving in the nation's capital, Augustine said, local representatives had met with people at Congresswoman Ellen Tausher's office, Congressman George Miller's office, Sen. Barbara Boxer's office, Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office, Congressman Dan Lungren's office, and others.

"We've had a very successful schedule, meeting with people and getting the word out," Augustine said. "We've been reiterating the needs we have in Solano County and I feel very positive with the reception we're having."

Aside from the mayors, others on the trip included Sandy Person, vice president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, Halls and STA Marketing and Legislative Program Manager Jayne Bauer. Augustine said the county's "clear set of priorities" and the unified front presented by local leaders could only help their cause.

"It is pretty unusual to see this kind of cooperation," Augustine said. "There is a camaraderie that exists among us that is pretty self-evident."

Person echoed those sentiments and was happy with what she witnessed.

"It was strong and we carried the message. I've been impressed with the team talking in a unified voice," Person said. "We've got a positive reception, but we've got a big job to do. We have a lot to do; our transportation needs are great."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

Congresswoman Tauscher to Speak in Vacaville

Congresswoman Tauscher to Speak in Vacaville
By Daily Republic staff

VACAVILLE - Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, will speak on April in Vacaville about issues facing Congress.

Tauscher also is expected to discuss her work as the chairwoman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee, according to a press release from the Solano Economic Development Corp., which is hosting the talk.

It is part of the Solano EDC's monthly breakfast and luncheon series that bring programs of interest to county government and industry leaders.

Registration will begin at 11 a.m. The luncheon and program starts at 11:30 a.m. Attendance costs $25 for EDC members and $35 for non-members. The luncheon will be at the Travis Credit Union headquarters, One Travis Way in Vacaville. For more information or to register contact Pat Uhrich at 864-1855.

Solano County One of Slowest Growers in State, Census Says

Solano County One of Slowest Growers in State, Census Says
By Ben Antonius

FAIRFIELD - Solano County added less than 1,000 residents between July 2005 and July 2006, making it one of the slowest-growing of California's 58 counties, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data, released March 22, shows the county population growing by 894 people during those 12 months - from 410,786 to 411,680. That is an increase of 0.2 percent, 45th of the 58 counties and well below the 0.8 average statewide.

Solano County has added 17,167 residents since the 2000 census, according to the bureau estimates. That's a 4.4 percent growth rate, good for 35th in the state. The figures are a surprise, said Mike Ammann, Solano Economic Development Corp. president.

"You don't see a lot of the developments that have been put up not securing households," he said. "If you look at our unemployment rates, it's always been in the 5, maybe 6 percent range. If there were a lot of people who were unemployed, you could understand why people might not want to stay . . . but that hasn't been the case."

Yuba and Plumas counties were the fastest- and slowest-growing counties by percentage, with Yuba County growing by 4.8 percent and Plumas County losing 0.7 percent in the year. In terms of sheer numbers, Riverside County added the most residents - more than 80,000 - and Monterey lost the most - just over 2,000.

Of Solano's neighboring counties, Yolo County grew by 1.6 percent in 2005-2006, Napa County grew by 0.8 percent, Contra Costa County grew by 0.7 percent and Sonoma County was virtually unchanged.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or

County Leaders Push For Federal Dollars

County Leaders Push For Federal Dollars
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and other local leaders spent two days in Washington, D.C., lobbying for more than $14 million in transportation money.

The check isn't in the mail yet for such projects as improving Highway 12 safety, renovating the California Highway Patrol truck scales and building the Fairfield-Vacaville train station, but Price is encouraged.

"I would say the major progress is we stand a very good chance of getting some of those critical earmarks we're requesting," Price said in a phone call from Washington, D.C., Tuesday.

The Solano Transportation Authority contingent has visited staff for various movers and shakers in Congress, including House Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada. They spoke to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, and other elected officials.

Local leaders hope to get five Solano County transportation projects included in the next federal budget.

An initial step was making certain that various Congressional representatives are submitting applications for the projects, STA Executive Director Daryl Halls said by phone from Washington, D.C. All five projects have applications, he said.

The House of Representatives is aiming to have an appropriations bill finished by July, Halls said. The Senate usually takes a little longer. Solano County could know in early fall what earmarks it will get, he said.

For the first time, the Solano Economic Development Corp. sent a representative on the annual transportation lobbying trip. Vice President Sandy Person went.

"The major employers of Solano County continue to be concerned with the safety of their workforce, as well as their ability to move their goods," Person said. "The challenges that face us require federal matching funds. They're big fixes."

She stressed the partnership between the public and private sector on transportation. Businesses and industry must participate if the message is to resonate, she said.

Also making the two-day lobbying trip were Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, Vallejo Mayor Anthony Intintoli, Benicia Mayor Steve Messina, STA Legislative Program Manager Jayne Bauer, Jon Monson of MV Transportation and Mike Miller of the Ferguson Group.

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

Solano County priority projects

Solano County transportation

leaders are lobbying to get

these federal dollars:

-$3.3. million to help build a Vallejo ferry maintenance building.

-$2 million to help establish a Fairfield-Vacaville train stop at Peabody and Vanden roads.

-$6 million to help renovate the California Highway Patrol truck scales on Interstate 80 near Cordelia.

-$3 million to help improve rural roads leading to Travis Air Force Base.

-$200,000 for safety signs on Highway 12 between Suisun City and Rio Vista, as well as safety education programs.

Latest C-17 Arrives At Travis

Latest C-17 Arrives At Travis
By Daily Republic staff

Travis troops welcome a C-17 delivered to the base on Tuesday. (Photo by Zachary Kaufman)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE - Travis Air Force Base welcomed its 10th C-17 Globemaster III jet transport Tuesday morning, flown in by Brig. Gen. Scott Wuesthoff, Tanker Airlift Control vice commander for Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

This C-17 lands three weeks after the ninth Globemaster arrived here. The base got its first C-17 in August 2006.

Travis is slated to receive 13 of the modern airlift aircraft by the end of 2007. The base is expected to have all its aircraft by the end of summer at the latest.

The base is the only Air Mobility Command base to have three major airlift and air refueling aircraft - the C-17, the C-5 Galaxy transport and the KC-10 Extender air tanker.

Tending The City Like An Orchard

Tending The City Like An Orchard
McCue Guides Vallejo Development
By J.M. BROWN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

AN AERIAL PHOTO of Mare Island, one of several redevelopment projects she oversees, is displayed on the wall of Susan McCues office. She is Vallejo's economic development director. (J.M. Brown/Times-Herald)

When Susan McCue's hands aren't buried in Vallejo redevelopment projects, they're buried in soil, planting trees on her old orchard in the country.
The ever-cheery McCue, who became Vallejo's economic development director five months ago, likes to breathe life into old things.

Her favorite saying, attributed to 20th century labor leader Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, is: "Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living."

The 54-year-old McCue embodies that philosophy every weekend at her apple farm in Sebastopol, where she is restoring the orchard. "I'm planting new trees and bringing back the old guys," she said.

The Long Beach native, who lives in Berkeley during the week, has guided economic de-velopment all over the Bay Area. Before taking the Vallejo job in October, she worked in Martinez, Santa Rosa and Union City.

Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder said McCue left a big footprint in his town, which had over the years lost critical mass downtown to larger cities in the county, like Walnut Creek.

But by bringing more businesses downtown, creating an activities banner and helping to plan a new cabaret theater, McCue was just the kind of "cheerleader" his city needed, Schroder said.

"I don't think anyone could not like her," Schroder said. "She's always got a smile on her face. She looks toward the positive of any problem."

McCue, who grew up in Marin County, said she fell in love with Vallejo on her first visit, immediately seeing the potential for urban renewal with projects afoot for the downtown, waterfront and Mare Island.

"What a pretty place Vallejo is - the water, lots of trees and the architecture," she said during an interview in her sunny City Hall office overlooking the library. "And the people are so friendly."

Her goal for Vallejo, she said, is to market its potential for investment by attracting new retailers to generate more sales tax.

The city has room enough to support both "smart growth," like the mixed-use redevelopment project downtown, and large, corporate retailers closer to the freeway, she said. "Vallejo can accommodate the best of both," she said.

So far, she's made a good impression on downtown business advocates by being an approachable, good listener.

"She is very active and wants to learn about the city and the issues facing it," Vallejo Main Street president Robert Brise o said. "She's not saying, 'I know how to fix it.' She's saying, 'I have some ideas, but let me hear what your thoughts are and we can create a longer-term plan.' "

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

Susan McCue

Age: 54

Hometown: Long Beach, lives in Berkeley.

Occupation: Vallejo economic development director

Special interests: Working in her apple orchard in Sebastopol

Quote: "What a pretty place Vallejo is - the water, lots of trees and the architecture. And the people are so friendly."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rising to the Occasion

Rising to the Occasion
Panera Bread Opens in Nut Tree Village
By John Ireland/Business Writer

Sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries and breads are available now at Panera Bread, located at the Nut Tree Village in Vacaville. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

It won't be difficult to find the newest tenant at the Nut Tree Village. Just close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Panera Bread opened its doors this morning at 6 a.m., a day after welcoming family members and special friends to an introductory practice run to test-drive the service and menu. Judging by the satisfied smiles on the faces of the volunteers, the only eatery in the retail center is already a big hit.

"The public should love it," said Sean Wiskeman, vice president of leasing and marketing for Westrust, the company that oversees the various storefronts in the Village.

"They're a great operation - a beautiful restaurant with a great atmosphere," he said. "They're a first-class tenant and we're certainly pleased to have them at Nut Tree Village."

Panera general manager Doug Fearon promises a new experience for Vacaville.

"A lot of people in town are in for a big surprise when they come to Panera Bread," he said. "People think we're just a bakery (but) we're very close to being a full-service restaurant."

Part of the St. Louis Bread Company imprint, Panera Bread has only been in Northern California for two years, but its reputation for tasty quality is spreading as quickly as the aroma of fresh-baked dough. That's based in large part on the fact that all bread and pastries are made fresh on the premises every day.

"There's nothing ever left over from the night before," said joint venture partner Todd McDermott. "We're baking through the night, finishing up our bagels and pastries right before we open. So you have hot bagels when you come in at 6 a.m."

McDermott noted that Panera Bread offers more than unique flavors.

"The fact that it is all fresh and healthy and organic also makes us different," he said of a lineup that includes sandwiches, soups, salads and pizza.

McDermott was part of the team that helped place the bakery-cafe in Vacaville. "Our real estate team has an elaborate plan for what works for Panera," he explained. "(Nut Tree Village) came up as a great site in a town that's plenty big enough for Panera, in a very visible, well-known location."

Panera Bread joins Famous Footwear, Tilly's and Justice: Just For Girls as new operations at Nut Tree Village. Wiskeman expects Amici's East Coast Pizzeria and Fentons Creamery to join them by mid-April. According to the posted Coming Soon signs, other businesses expected to open this spring include Thornton and Sons, L+L Hawaiian Barbecue, Top Coat Salon & Spa, Clothes Fit: Fine Men's Wear, Barbecues Galore, Teaz Me Tea, Kool Kids, and T-Mobile.

John Ireland can be contacted at

Luncheon Features Congresswoman

Luncheon Features Congresswoman

The Solano Economic Development Corp. will host a luncheon event featuring Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, chairwoman of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

The luncheon will be held on Wednesday, April 4, at Travis Credit Union, One Travis Way in Vacaville. Registration begins at 11 a.m. with the lunch and program starting at 11:30 a.m.

Cost is $25 per person for members and $35 for non-members. Complimentary tickets are available to members varying on member level.

For more information or to register, contact Pat Uhrich at the Solano EDC office at 864-1855 or by e-mail to

County Grows by 4.4 Percent

County Grows by 4.4 Percent

Solano County has grown by an estimated 17,167 residents since 2000, a 4.4 percent gain that ranks it 19 in popuation of counties in California, according to estimates released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau estimates Solano County's population at 411,680 as of July 1, 2006, an increase of just 894 residents since July 1, 2005.

The estimates are part of a nationwide county population survey by the Bureau which found that Maricopa County, Ariz., which gained 696,000 residents between 2000 and 2006, showed the largest population gain in the nation.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Nut Tree Lives Again

The Nut Tree Lives Again -- Vacaville Landmark Experiences Rebirth With Families, Shoppers
By Amy Maginnis-Honey

At the Nut Tree Family Park in Vacaville, you can ride the Nut Tree Railroad Train, which was introduced in 1956 and received a $100,000 renovation in 2006. (2006 file photo)

VACAVILLE - First, Vacaville resident Doug Garcia sat on a bench, drenched in sunshine, near the Nut Tree Family Park Railroad tracks. Later, he sought shade in a small picnic area closer to the front entrance.

This was the first time Garcia, who was there with his two grandchildren, had been at the reborn Nut Tree. "It's nice," he said. " I like the shopping center."

Garcia thought the Family Park was a little expensive, however. The train ride is $3.40 per person. One ride ticket costs 85 cents and each rides take two, three or four tickets.

When Garcia lived in San Lorenzo, he often stopped at the Nut Tree to eat on his way to Reno. Two-and-a-half years ago he moved to Vacaville.

He estimated it had been about 20 years since he had been there. The Nut Tree closed in 1996 after more than seven decades in operation.

After a series of fits and starts, including being home to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire a few years, the buildings were leveled and everything began anew.

Garcia is pleased things have turned out this way. "I'm very happy to see something here," he said. "I'd like to see a restaurant, too."

The amusement park, vineyard, bocce grove and shopping center, called Nut Tree Village, are complete. The shopping area includes major retailers like Best Buy and Border's.

The second phase will include a 200-room hotel, 20,000 square foot conference center, 156 townhouses and 200,000 square feet of office space.

Ground should be broken on it this year.

On Saturday, the bocce grove was officially dedicated with 32 teams from all over northern California expected to be on hand to compete.

Fairfield resident Joe Ragusa planned on being there. He's pleased to see more bocce courts being built because it means the sport is growing in popularity.

"I hope they have success," he said of the new courts.

Developers are hoping for 3 million visitors annually.

The Powell family of Suisun City did their best to help those numbers as Kathi and Jerry Powell were there on a recent Saturday afternoon with three of their four daughters (they also have a son) and two grandchildren.

Kathi Powell joked the visit made her "feel old."

"I remember the hobby horses and the train," she said. "We used to bring our children here several times a year."

"I only remember riding the horses," daughter Kara Powell interjected.

"I remember the horses and the shop with crystals," daughter Anna Connaughton said. "I remember the rock candy and the mirrors that made you look taller and shorter."

Now, she's bringing her 4-year-old daughter Madison and 1-year-old son Ian to the park. It was her second visit.

"I like it very much," she said. "It's very cute. It's a place where toddlers can come. Some theme parks are geared toward teens."

Connaughton lives in Napa.

Jerry Powell made an important decision at the Nut Tree. After giving a talk in the main dining room to a group of special education directors, he was approached and offered a job.

Kathi and Jerry Powell sat out in the Nut Tree main area and talked about it. That was about 15 years ago and Jerry Powell took the job. He still works in the same field.

Jerry Powell also remembered the annual pumpkin patch and scarecrow contest at the Nut Tree.

"I thought it was just going to be stores," he said, watching his grandchildren enjoy their rides on the hobby horses.

"I was really sad when it closed," Kathi Powell said. "I remember thinking, 'I hope they do something with it.' "

The Nut Tree started as a fruit stand in the 1920s, eventually adding a restaurant, gift shop, train ride and other family activities that were popular with travelers on the old U.S. Highway 40 which is now Interstate 80.

Ground on the family park and shopping area was broken in 2005. Both opened in fall 2006.

Amy Maginnis-Honey can be reached at or 427-6957.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Vallejo wages on the rise Studies show 19 percent pay-scale increase since 2001

Vallejo wages on the rise
Studies show 19 percent pay-scale increase since 2001

By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Article Launched:03/25/2007 08:50:08 AM PDT
It may surprise you - or not - that Vallejo-area wage hikes are outpacing not only California, but the nation.

That's according to one new study that shows area pay scales have risen more than 19 percent since 2001. Another study, meanwhile, shows local employers predict strong job growth in the coming quarter.

That Vallejo area wages rose more than the state's or the nation's comes as welcome news, though as no surprise to Rick Wells, Vallejo Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

"This goes to what we've been telling potential businesses - that we've seen demographic changes in Vallejo and the region and that the old Census data is no longer accurate," Wells said.

According to e-Canned, an economic analysis Web site, the Vallejo-Fairfield metro area's 19.1 percent rise in average industry wages since 2001 compares to California's 15 percent increase. It also beats the national rise of 15.8 percent over the same period.

The site further reports the county's median household income has "increased sharply" - more than 50 percent - to $62,213 in that time, making it one of the nation's fastest growing metro areas.

Meanwhile, the area's poverty rate has fallen nearly 4 percent since the 2000 census, even as the area's population has grown an almost identical percentage, according to the site.

Still, the site, which analyzes U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates Program and 2005 American Community Survey data, shows African-American, Hispanic and Asian households here are still more likely than whites to be poor. It also shows that children under 5 "have the largest percentage of population in poverty" in the Vallejo-Fairfield area.

The site reports that the percentage of area minorities has increased to 49.4 percent from 45.1 percent in 2000, while Caucasians comprise 45.1 percent of the area's population.

Overall, the changes should spell good news for locals, Wells said.

"It means we'll become more attractive to business - especially high-end retail, which will mean more retail options for the people who live here," Wells said. "It also means a greater number of available jobs."

Wells' conclusion mirrors the latest Manpower employment survey, which shows Solano and Napa county employers expect to hire at a steady pace during the second quarter of 2007.

Area job seekers likely will have the best luck in construction, durable goods manufacturing, services and public administration, said Manpower spokeswoman Sherrie Phillipi. A 20 percent net gain is expected in the area, Phillipi said.

As the Vallejo chamber board president, Touro University's Dick Hassel said he's not surprised, either.

"We're due," Hassel said. "We're one of the last great areas for job growth left in the Bay Area and our day is coming. This portends prosperity to come."

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

Rio Vista Endive farmer envisions agricultural complex on I-80

Endive farmer envisions agricultural complex on I-80

An Interstate 80 interchange to nowhere could next year begin taking motorists to Solano County's biggest roadside farmstand since the heyday of the Nut Tree. Richard Collins plans to open the initial phase of Bridgeway Farms in May 2008.

It would ultimately have orchards, crops, cows, pigs, hens and other farm staples. People could buy products grown and made at the farm, as well as produce from other local farms. Collins last summer bought 200 acres along I-80 near Highway 113, between Dixon and Davis. His in-laws bought an adjacent 250 acres. Both properties have conservation easements, which bars them from being developed with industry and homes.

The Nut Tree in its original incarnation was a roadside fruit stand that grew so big and famous that it put Vacaville on the map. Freeway travelers stopped there to buy fresh fruit and nuts grown in Solano County - just as Collins hopes they will do at Bridgeway Farms.. That interchange to nowhere makes it all possible. The state built the $2.3 million interchange in 1991 after a 20-year delay. It had promised the structure to farmers in the 1960s as part of the right-of-way agreements to turn Highway 40 into I-80. Once the freeway got built, farmers with land on both sides needed an overpass to move their equipment between the parcels.

So there sits the interchange at Collins' property, with off-ramps leading to dead-end Kidwell Road .. Bridgeway Farms could buy produce from farmers within a 50-mile radius and tell their stories to customers. The property would ultimately include farmworker housing..

Collins and Marc Darbonne started California Vegetable Specialties, located in Rio Vista. The company harvests chicory roots with the growing buds intact, puts them in cold storage for 10 months, then grows them again in a dark room. The result is endive, which looks like a budding flower. "As far as we know, there are no other commercial growers in the U.S.," Collins said..

Saturday, March 24, 2007


University of California, Davis
March 23, 2007


Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons will speak to about 50 researchers from 14 states as they learn how to take their environmental solutions from the lab to the marketplace at a weeklong UC Davis program beginning Monday, March 26, at Lake Tahoe.

Gibbons will discuss the importance of energy initiatives when he talks to participants of the Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy on Wednesday, March 28, in Incline Village, Nev.

"One of the biggest challenges facing this nation is the issue of energy production," the governor said. "In order to meet our current needs, and reduce our dependence on foreign resources, we must expand our current production capabilities to include alternative and renewable sources.

"However, science and research is only as good as our ability to bring it to the forefront of an innovative marketplace," he added. "I am pleased that we will be able to address both aspects of energy development and commercialization."

Gibbons will speak at a 6:30 p.m. dinner at the Chateau restaurant, located at the Championship Golf Course, 955 Fairway Blvd., Incline Village. His talk, expected to begin about 7:45 p.m., will be followed by a keynote address by William Rosenzweig, co-founder of Physic Ventures of San Francisco.

The academy, hosted by the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship, is at the forefront of an effort by universities to accelerate the transformation of research into businesses that solve real-world problems.

Andrew Hargadon, director of the entrepreneurship center and the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, says the need for practical solutions to energy and resource conservation has become a major issue with the growing global environmental crisis. "The challenge lies in translating environmentally sustainable technologies and research into viable business ventures," said Hargadon, an associate professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and its director of technology studies.

Science and business students and professors from two dozen institutions will work under the guidance of UC Davis faculty, technology transfer experts, entrepreneurs and investors from environmental science and technology-based ventures.

Projects they bring with them will include those that could produce environmentally friendly packaging, improve inventory methods for forestlands, significantly reduce electricity usage for air conditioning and eliminate the use of drinking water for evaporative cooling.

The program will integrate lectures, exercises, team projects and informal fireside chats. Hargadon said students will learn to manage the dynamics of entrepreneurship, evaluate technology and market opportunities, pursue patent and licensing strategies, write business plans, manage interdisciplinary teams and find funding.

Guest speaker Rosenzweig is co-founder of Physic Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on health, wellness and sustainable living investments. He is also managing director of Great Spirit Ventures, a portfolio of health and wellness investments.
Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is expected to visit during lunch on March 30.

The five-day intensive academy is modeled after the UC Davis Graduate School of Management's yearlong and weeklong programs in which doctoral science students develop skills to commercialize research.

UC Davis' Hargadon oversees the academy. A former design engineer for IDEO Product Development and Apple, he studies innovation and new product development. He is author of "How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate."

Academy sponsors include the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the National Science Foundation, PG&E, Sierra Angels and the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment.

The academy will be held at the new Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences in Incline Village. A $24-million green building that houses research and teaching programs, the facility is a collaboration of UC Davis and Sierra Nevada College in partnership with Desert Research Institute and the University of Nevada, Reno.

The building was designed and built with a goal of achieving a Platinum Rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program (). It would be only the second such building in the University of California system, the ninth in the state of California and the first in Nevada.

For additional information on the academy, including a detailed schedule, please visit the academy's Web site at:

Additional information:
* Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy
* UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship
* Graduate School of Management
* Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences

Media contact(s):
* Andrew Hargadon, Graduate School of Management, (530) 752-2277,
* Nicole Starsinic, Graduate School of Management, (530) 220-2394 (This is a cell number.)
* Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-8248,

Our full UC Davis directory of media services and 24-hour contact information is available at .
Need information from campus news archives? The UC Davis News Service database contains past (and current) UC Davis news stories dating to 1991. Go to .
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Sacramento jobless rate steady, area adds 14,900 service jobs in year - Sacramento Business Journal:

Sacramento Business Journal - March 23, 2007

Business News - Local News
Jobless rate steady, area adds 14,900 service jobs in year
Sacramento Business Journal - 12:30 PM PDT Friday, March 23, 2007

The unemployment rates for both Greater Sacramento and California were unchanged in February from the month before.

The four-county area added 14,900 jobs from February 2006 to February 2007, a 1.7 percent increase with all the gains isolated to the service industries, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday. Government payrolls grew by 4,900 year over year, largely through added state employment. Private education and healthcare added 3,600 jobs, mostly through healthcare gains.

Other annual gains came in professional and business services and in leisure and hospitality, each gaining 1,800 jobs, while farm employment added 1,200 jobs year over year.

Those were offset in part by the loss of 1,700 construction jobs, and 600 manufacturing jobs in the February-to-February span. Manufacturing of durable goods declined by 1,000 jobs, but non-durable manufacturing added 400.

The state unemployment rate was 4.8 percent in February after adjustments for seasonal variation in employment such as holiday retail hiring. That was unchanged from January and one-tenth of a point below the figure for Feb. 2006.

Local unemployment data are calculated without seasonal adjustments. The jobless rate for the four-county region centered on Sacramento was 5.3 percent in February, also unchanged from the prior month, but up from an estimated 5 percent in February 2006. Individual rates were 4.7 percent for Placer County, 5.2 percent in both Sacramento and El Dorado counties, and 6.6 percent in Yolo County, which is more heavily reliant on seasonal farm work.

Without the adjustment for seasonal fluctuations, the state rate was 5.2 percent in California and 4.9 percent nationwide.

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Scaramento Region adds more than 25,000 people in a year

Sacramento Business Journal - March 23, 2007

Business News - Local News

Region adds more than 25,000 people in a year

Sacramento Business Journal - 2:25 PM PDT Friday, March 23, 2007
by Adam Weintraub
Staff writer

The four-county Sacramento region added an estimated 25,400 people from July 2005 to July 2006, while Yuba County had the highest percentage population growth of any California county over the same period.

The new estimates were released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau for counties across the United States. California added more than 300,000 people during the past year, increasing the state's population to almost 36,457,600.

The Greater Sacramento growth amounted to about 8.4 percent of the state's overall estimated population growth for the year. The growth in the four-county area paled next to other parts of the state. Riverside County alone added an estimated 81,411 people in one year.

Nine of the 58 California counties saw an estimated loss of population, with the largest, 2,134 people, in Monterey County, the Census Bureau estimated.

Two of the four local counties -- Sacramento and Placer -- each added more population than the estimated 6,900 or so that became residents of Los Angeles County.

In the four-county metro area:

* Sacramento County added an estimated 11,301 people to reach 1.375 million, up 0.8 percent. The one-year growth was sixth-highest among all California counties by sheer numbers and No. 29 by percentage of growth.
* Placer County added about 9,374 people to reach more than 326,000, up 3 percent. That was No. 8 in the state by number and No. 5 by percentage. The county has grown 31 percent from 2000 through 2006, first in California and 41st in the nation over than span.
* Yolo County added about 2,994 people to top 188,000, up 1.6 percent. That increase ranked No. 23 in the state, and the rate of increase ranked No. 16.
* El Dorado County added 1,747 to exceed 178,000, up 1 percent. The increase ranked 26th out of 58, and the rate of growth ranked 27th.

Yuba County, which has seen a flurry of new housing at the south end closest to Sacramento since 2003, had the fastest growth rate of any county in California from 2005 to 2006. It added an estimated 3,252 people to reach about 70,400, up 4.8 percent.

The four-county Sacramento region has added more than 270,000 people from 2000 through July 2006, the Census Bureau estimates, up 15 percent to 2,067,147.

Flagler County, Fla., had the highest growth rate of any county in the United States from 2000 through 2006, growing 66.7 percent from 49,835 to 83,084. The Census Bureau excluded counties with a population of less than 10,000 people from that calculation.

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Silicon Valley's job market heated up again in February

Silicon Valley's job market heated up again in February, with payroll gains compared with the month before and a year earlier, according to a report today from the state Employment Development Department.

In the superbly sunny San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metropolitan area - which you may know better as Santa Clara and San Benito counties - the number of payroll jobs hit 905,800 in February - up 2,700, or 0.3 percent, from the month before. That number was up 21,100, or 2.4 percent, from February 2006.

The state counted a better-than-average seasonal gain in private educational and health services. Compared with January, the valley had more jobs in professional and business services and in arts, entertainment and recreation. The gains more than offset seasonal job losses among retailers.

Compared with February 2006, the valley had 6,100 more jobs in professional and business services, a category that includes computer systems design. Once again, the state counted 3,100 more leisure and hospitality jobs, which includes those always popular eating and drinking establishments.

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, dropped to 4.6 percent from 4.7

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dixon Downs Voting Nears; Pace Quickens

Dixon Downs Voting Nears; Pace Quickens
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

Campaign momentum is picking up the pace, with Dixon voters set to head to the polls in less than a month to decide whether a horse racetrack and entertainment facility should be built in the city.

Two opposing groups - "Don't Let Dixon Down," in favor of the track, and Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth, opposing the project - are setting their campaigns at a gallop toward the April 17 finish line.

On that day, voters will have to approve Measures M, N, O and P - two ordinances and two resolutions - for the project to pass.

"It's an uphill battle," said Erin Lehane, campaign manager for Don't Let Dixon Down. "But we're gaining momentum."

Lehane and other supporters, including "Yes on Dixon Downs," a grass-roots group in favor of the project, are putting their best foot forward in trying to register voters before an April 2 deadline. New site maps of the project are hanging around all over town, giving voters a better understanding of the proposed location and details of the complex.

"Before, people didn't have a concept of where it is," Lehane said. "This way they have a different perspective."

The project, proposed by Ontario, Canada-based Magna Entertainment Corp., would sit on 260 acres in the northeast quadrant of the city, along Interstate 80 and Pedrick Road.

Don't Let Dixon Down, using $300,000 if its own money, given to them by the Pacific Racing Associa-tion, a subsidiary of Magna, used the money for campaign consultants, professional services, meetings and appearances and campaign materials. The group spent more than $6,200 at The Embroidery Shop of Dixon.

The grass-roots, "Yes on Dixon Downs," has received most of its campaign money from businesses and long-time Dixon residents including: $1,000 from Salaber Associates Inc.; $500 from Gordon Hammond, former president of the Chamber of Commerce; $500 from Helmut Sommer; $500 from Realtor Kevin Johnson, $100 from Jill Orr, former City Councilwoman; and $100 from Ken Mistler, former City Councilman. The group spent the majority of its money on yard signs.

Recently the proponents of the track said they felt the mood of the people shift, with a lawsuit dropped by the Campbell Soup Co. and an endorsement from the Dixon Professional Firefighters Association, a first for the group.

"We seem to have different ideas of what opportunity is," Lehane said. "We seem to have taken away some of the substance of our opposition."

The opposition, however, is moving forward with its campaign as well.

Not wanting to reveal too much about their plans, Ada Preston, a member of Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth, said they're still making phone calls and visiting door-to-door, as in previous months.

A recent mailer was sent out to residents that said, "Don't Gamble with Dixon's future."

"We're very encouraged," she said. 'We have our plan in place."

Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth has received more than $9,000 this year for its campaign efforts, bringing the total income to more than $16,500. Planning Commissioner Kay Fulfs Cayler and her husband Russ gave $500; residents Jack and Janet Mueller gave $300; residents Thomas J Ruppel and Nancy K. Clark together gave $1,000 and the Sierra Club gave $1,000. The majority of the group's funds were spent on mailers and yard signs.

Gail Preston, Ada's husband, explained that the April 17 vote boils down to what people want for Dixon's future.

"Do you want to be the 'destination center' they advertised or the one you grew up in," Gail asked.

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome before the vote, according to supporters of the track, is battling confusion.

"Confusion is our obstacle, not theirs," Lehane said. "If one measure doesn't pass the whole project fails."

Lehane understands there seems to be a lot of fear about the project, but she reassures voters to not be scared, but to "have hope and not fear."

To some, the project does bring the fear of losing Dixon's quality of life.

"We're too small of a town," Ada Preston said. "We want to protect the quality of life, we'll grow just fine without them."

In the end, when all the votes have been counted, Magna and Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth agreed to abide by the vote.

Lehane said if the project doesn't pass, Magna will pack up and move, since there are numerous cities making invitations.

Gail, expecting a battle with Magna even if his side wins the election, was pleased to hear that Magna would be willing to concede if they lost.

"We'll just have to wait and see," he said.

In weeks to come, Dennis Mills, vice chairman of Magna, hopes to reveal a plan that addresses problem gambling and a mural of a horse race that will be displayed in town.

Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth, on the other hand, will be sending out more information in the mail.

Melissa Murphy can be reached at

Endive Farmer Envisions Agricultural Complex on I-80

Endive Farmer Envisions Agricultural Complex on I-80
By Barry Eberling

Richard Collins would like to build a produce-selling center on the north side of I-80 on Kidwell Road near Dixon. (Photo by Mike McCoy)

FAIRFIELD - An Interstate 80 interchange to nowhere could next year begin taking motorists to Solano County's biggest roadside farmstand since the heyday of the Nut Tree.

Richard Collins plans to open the initial phase of Bridgeway Farms in May 2008. It would ultimately have orchards, crops, cows, pigs, hens and other farm staples. People could buy products grown and made at the farm, as well as produce from other local farms.

Collins last summer bought 200 acres along I-80 near Highway 113, between Dixon and Davis. His in-laws bought an adjacent 250 acres. Both properties have conservation easements, which bars them from being developed with industry and homes.

"We want to develop the land, not in the sense of classic development, but agriculturally," Collins said.

The Nut Tree in its original incarnation was a roadside fruit stand that grew so big and famous that it put Vacaville on the map. Freeway travelers stopped there to buy fresh fruit and nuts grown in Solano County - just as Collins hopes they will do at Bridgeway Farms.

"It's like a new-age Nut Tree," Collins said, adding he wants to take the concept and update it for today.

That interchange to nowhere makes it all possible.

The state built the $2.3 million interchange in 1991 after a 20-year delay. It had promised the structure to farmers in the 1960s as part of the right-of-way agreements to turn Highway 40 into I-80. Once the freeway got built, farmers with land on both sides needed an overpass to move their equipment between the parcels.

So there sits the interchange at Collins' property, with off-ramps leading to dead-end Kidwell Road. There are no developments nearby. The structure is seemingly waiting to serve the proposed Bridgeway Farms and Bridgeway Farms alone.

"It's a curious little asset out there," Collins said.

The overpass is one reason Collins chose the name of Bridgeway Farms. The other reason is the dream he has for the endeavor.

"What we hope to do is bridge from the valley's agricultural past, which is rich in history, to it's agricultural future, which we consider to be just as rich - but different," he said.

More and more, small farmers talk about selling products directly to customers. People visiting Bridgeway Farms would be able to shop inside a new building, possibly a turn-of-the-century-style barn with 20-foot-high ceilings and cupolas on the roof. They could watch cheese being made with milk from the farm cows and eat a pork sandwich with meat from the farm pigs.

Bridgeway Farms could buy produce from farmers within a 50-mile radius and tell their stories to customers. The property would ultimately include farmworker housing.

This won't be the place for people who are willing to settle for bagged lettuce from a mammoth discount food store.

"We're not going to be the cheapest, because that's not sustainable," Collins said.

Larry Clement, director emeritus for the University of California Cooperative Extension, is looking for new ways to make Solano County farming profitable. He has brought up the idea of establishing agricultural enterprise zones, to give farmers the opportunity to try more entrepreneurial ventures.

Collins' ideas for Bridgeway Farms is exactly the type of creative thinking that is needed.

"Traditional farming is OK, but it's getting less and less economical," Clement said. "These guys need to come up with something different."

Collins grew up in Carmichael during the 1970s. His father bought 2 acres near their home and Collins as a boy grew vegetables there.

"I've always wanted to be a farmer," Collins said with a laugh. "I don't know why. I can't explain it. There's no explanation."

In 1978, as a teen, he worked washing dishes at a French restaurant in Sacramento. The owner on a special occasion had endive, a vegetable that comes from chicory.

"It's the only night he had it," Collins said. "He said, 'This is what you should grow.' "

Collins and Marc Darbonne started California Vegetable Specialties, located in Rio Vista. The company harvests chicory roots with the growing buds intact, puts them in cold storage for 10 months, then grows them again in a dark room. The result is endive, which looks like a budding flower.

"As far as we know, there are no other commercial growers in the U.S.," Collins said.

Endive is pronounced "on-deev." People can buy Collins' product at such stores as Trader Joe's and Raley's. Soon, Bridgeway Farms should be added to the list.

"It's going to become a bastion of endive, I hope," Collins said.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Green Beans Gets 'Today' Show Shot

Green Beans Gets 'Today' Show Shot
By Ben Antonius

FAIRFIELD - The publicity keeps rolling in for Green Beans Coffee.

After several newspaper features, the globetrotting coffee company was visited on March 15 by a film crew from NBC's "Today" morning program.

"They were interested in the Green Beans story," said Operations Manager JR Rodriguez, who was interviewed by the crews. A company spokesman said they have not gotten an air date for the segment from NBC.

The interest comes as Green Beans is launching its first permanent stores on U.S. soil. For years, the company consisted of a handful of mobile coffee shops following American military deployments around the world.

With its brand recognition strongest in the military, the company opened its first two stores in Fairfield and Vacaville, near the population stationed at Travis Air Force Base.

Rodriguez said the television interview focused on how Green Beans will make the transition from overseas bases, where it was often the only premium coffee available, to the competitive domestic market.

"Mainly, how we expect to compete in this type of business with Starbucks and the like," he said. "I gave them the answer I give everyone: We are not here to compete with Starbucks . . . We are bringing something to the market no other coffee company can say they can do."

That something would be Green Beans history with the military and its continued involvement with military-affiliated charities, he said. The company offers a 10 percent discount to members of the military and donates a portion of its gross sales to the Pat Tillman Foundation, Soldiers' Angels and the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund.

Reach Ben Antonius at or 427-6977.

Suisun's Excursion Boat in Limbo After Lease Proposal is Pulled

Suisun's Excursion Boat in Limbo After Lease Proposal is Pulled
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Will Suisun City's excursion boat stay in Suisun City?

That's a question the skipper of the 45-foot excursion boat California Sunset is pondering after Mayor Pete Sanchez yanked a proposed five-year lease from the agenda for Suisun City Council's Tuesday meeting.

"It was disheartening," said boat owner Dan Thiemann, who had no warning before arriving at the meeting. He also isn't sure what will happen next.

Thiemann was stunned when Sanchez started the meeting by announcing the proposed lease was being dropped from the agenda without a peep or a vote from the rest of the council.

"I don't know if I should fire it up and get the boat out of here," said Thiemann, whose vessel has called Suisun City home since July 2006.

Sanchez said later he felt five years was too long a period for the lease. The mayor also said the lease didn't have a clause he wanted that would allow the city to terminate it without cause.

Up to now, the California Sunset has been running tours from the city's public boat dock on a month-to-month basis and turning 10 percent of its gross revenues to the city.

Thiemann had been filling the city's goal of bringing in an entertainment boat for some time. The city had another, larger entertainment boat docked here several years ago, but that boat lasted only a year before leaving after running a financial loss.

The California Sunset brought in $38,000 between July 2006 and February with little or no advertising. The city got $3,796 of that.

The lease is expected to land back before the City Council in two weeks, when city staff will lay out different alternatives for councilmembers to discuss, City Manager Suzanne Bragdon said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Solar Savings

Solar Savings -- Cookware Center Powers Operations With the Sun
By Barry Eberling

Nelda Mundy Elementary third-grader Trevor Stout, 8, climbs into a PG&E truck bucket so he could get a closer look at the new solar power system on the roof of the Meyer Corporation. (Photo by Christine Baker)

FAIRFIELD - Meyer Corp., U.S. is using the power of the sun to help ship cookware from its massive distribution center in Solano Business Park.

The Vallejo-based company on Wednesday dedicated its $4 million rooftop solar energy project at the Fairfield center. About 2,790 solar panels covering 51,000 square feet generate enough electricity to power 670 homes, a PG&E press release said.

"I personally am delighted to be part of a solar power system that will have a positive impact on the environment," Meyer Chief Executive Officer Stanley Cheng told a few dozen people gathered for the occasion, among them Fairfield Mayor Harry Price.

Meyer distributes cookware and other kitchen products made by affiliated factories worldwide. Among its brands are Farberware, Rachel Ray, Anolon and KitchenAid.

The solar panels will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 167 tons in one year, said Mike Rummelhoff, vice president of operations. That's the equivalent of planting 50 trees, removing 34 cars from the road or not driving 606,000 miles, he said.

Over 30 years, the numbers jump to 1,500 trees, 1,000 cars and 18.2 million miles, he said.

Fairfield the previous day had experienced cloudy weather. Even so, the system produced 300 kilowatts of its 580 kilowatt capacity, Rummelhoff said.

Meyer officials also see business advantages to having the system, which is manufactured by Berkeley-based PowerLight Corp.

The company is getting a $1.4 million rebate from PG&E and a 30 percent federal tax incentive, Rummelhoff said. The system has a 25-year warranty and will pay for itself in seven years, he said.

"We have about 18 years of free electricity," Rummelhoff said.

Company officials were alarmed with electricity cutbacks during California's power crisis in the early decade, Cheng said.

"We couldn't believe it," Cheng said. "Perhaps the most high-tech economy in the world and we had an energy supply problem."

Cheng's advocacy of solar power goes beyond the Meyer project. He is also using the sun to power his house and to power the irrigation and other systems at his Hestan Vineyards, both in Napa Valley.

Meyer is looking at opening a solar panel manufacturing plant somewhere in the world and starting a solar-grade silicon refining factory, Cheng said.

"My hope is other companies in our area and the world will choose to take advantage of the greatest power source available to us: The sun," Cheng said.

If solar power is a trend, that trend is just beginning to take hold locally. Solano County in 2003 installed 1,312 solar panels at its Health and Social Services building, Vallejo in 2003 installed 1,700 panels to power a water pumping station and homes at Edenbridge in Vacaville are solar powered, among other examples.

PG&E since 2002 has given out about $200 million in solar rebates for 400 projects, said Jennifer Ramp, a spokeswoman for the utility. Only about a dozen projects have gotten bigger rebates than Meyer, she said.

Meyer Corp. has about 120 employees in both Fairfield and Vallejo.

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Supes, Staff Envision The Best For Solano

Supes, Staff Envision The Best For Solano
By Julie Kay/Staff Writer

Solano County's top government leaders combined their highest priorities with their best thinking Tuesday during a Strategic Planning Retreat focused on the county's future.

About 75 leaders, including the board of supervisors and the county's department heads, attended the meeting. There, they chose areas of importance, then considered innovative, "frame-breaking" approaches to those issues.

This, said Supervisor John Vasquez, gave leaders an opportunity to look at going above and beyond what leaders may already be doing.

"How do you get past that thinking of the things you've been doing and do it in a different way to leverage it more and provide a greater amount of service to more people?" he said.

The morning began with a look at the existing strategic plan leaders have developed for the county, whose four main goals are improving community members' health and well-being, ensuring responsible and sustainable land use, maintaining a safe community, and investing in the future.

The leaders then chose a handful of areas of particular importance or opportunity to focus on, with outcomes likely impacting one or multiple areas. Those included creating neighborhood-based services, promoting healthy lifestyles, revamping the jail system, and working on the general plan, emergency services, leadership, customer service, and public transportation.

Participants broke into five groups to tackle individual topics and come up with innovative approaches to those areas

Board Chairman Mike Reagan said the planning session represented a shift away from past practices.

"One of the changes we've made in the past five years is instead of having five board members opining on what they want, we include the entire executive management team," he said. "This forms a much more collaborative and sustainable thing because those are the people who actually have to get everything done."

Working with the entire group has been particularly successful because of the group's dynamics, he said.

"The team works so well together," he said. "The facilitator was impressed that (the participants) were all right on target."

After defining areas of strategic importance, participants spent time looking at how to measure successes in these areas. Reagan said that may have been the trickiest part of all.

"There are a lot of things the board measures all the time," he said. "It's figuring out which are the most appropriate ones to use to figure out if we are improving the quality of life in the county."

The meeting facilitators now will take all of the information from the session and put it into a streamlined document. When budget season comes around in June, supervisors will be looking at whether and how to fund some of the initiatives stemming from the session, Reagan said.

Vasquez said he felt the session had been productive.

"I walked away feeling good," he said. "There was much conversation afterward. Now we'll see if we can do something about it."

Julie Kay can be reached at

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