Tuesday, July 31, 2007

$100 million philanthropic grant for the establishment establish the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis;

Dear Friends of UC Davis –

On behalf of the University, I wanted to alert to a new development on campus. At a press conference this morning, campus and foundation officials announced a new $100 million philanthropic grant for the establishment of a new School of Nursing on the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Here are a few additional details regarding this exciting news:

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has provided $100 million in founding support to establish the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis;

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation, scientific research and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. From inception through 2006, the Foundation has awarded nearly $1.3 billion dollars in grants.

The grant will establish a professional nursing school that emphasizes leadership, scientific rigor and multi-disciplinary training. The program will strive to graduate influential nurse leaders, educators and researchers who will make positive, long-term systemic impacts to health care in California and throughout the nation;

This grant – to be allocated over 11 years - is the largest philanthropic grant to UC Davis, and one of the largest in the history of the University of California. It is also the largest philanthropic gift in the nation in support of nursing education;

With necessary approvals, Davis would admit its first masters and doctorate students in the fall of 2008. A BS nursing program is expected to launch in 2010 or 2011. Eventually, the school is expected to house 456 students;

Graduates of the School will serve as educators, researchers and leaders of healthcare teams that advance patient care and safety, prevent and treat disease, and improve access to and quality in an ever-changing and increasingly complex national healthcare system.

The school will include rigorous admissions standards, a curriculum that would be integrated with both UC Davis’ School of Medicine and Graduate School of Management, and residency training for bachelor’s degree candidates.

All degree programs would also incorporate UC Davis’ expertise in public health, telemedicine and health technology (the University continues to actively pursue the creation of a professional School of Public Health, which is progressing through the approval process);

For more information, please visit the UC Davis web site – www.ucdavis.edu – additional information will be available on the homepage.

Travis Team Tops AMC Rodeo Test

Travis Team Tops AMC Rodeo Test
By Ian Thompson

TRAVIS AFB - The 60th Air Mobility Wing capped its collection of awards at the Air Mobility Command Rodeo by being named the best Air Mobility Team.

"Team Travis demonstrated pride, professionalism and our true passion for excellence at the 2007 Air Mobility Command's Rodeo competition," 60th AMW commander Col. Steve Arquiette said.

The six-day event, which was held at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., pits units from throughout AMC against each other in competitions reflecting duties that units normally perform such as loading cargo, air refueling, maintenance and security operations.

Before the big honors were announced Friday, the 60th AMW's teams collected 10 awards from 48 competitions against a host of other AMW, Marine Corps and foreign commands.

Those awards were Best KC-10 Extender Preflight Team, Best C-5 Air Refueling Aircrew, Best C-5 Postlight Team, Best C-5 Maintenance Team, Best C-5 Aircrew, Best KC-10 Air Refueling Crew, Best C-17 Engine Running Offload Team, Best KC-10 Maintenance Team, Best KC-10 Cargo Loading Crew and Best KC-10 Aircrew.

At the rousing final awards ceremony, the 60th AMW also won Best Airland Team, Best Tanker Team, Best KC-10 Team, Best C-5 Team and Best C-17 Team.

The 60th AMW's aircraft maintenance personnel also brought home the Maintenance Knucklebuster Award for their work on keeping the aircraft the 60th AMW flew to McChord in top shape.

It took more than just the 60th AMW to bring home all the awards, Arquiette said.

"While the 60th AMW won the overall 'Best of the Best,' we could not have trained and competed as strongly as we did without the great day-to-day support from our Reserve partners in the 349th AMW," Arquiette said. "The 615th Contingency Response Wing fielded strong teams as well."

The Rodeo is held every two years. McDill Air Force BAse, Fla., won the top prize in 2005.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

State Fund Makes Presence Felt In Vacaville

State Fund Makes Presence Felt In Vacaville
By Ian Thompson

Construction crews work on the California State Compensation Insurance Fund complex at the corner of Grass Land and Horse Creek drives in Vacaville on Monday. (Mike McCoy/Daily Republic)

VACAVILLE - Construction has started on the first buildings of a California State Compensation Insurance Fund office complex that will bring between 1,200 and 2,000 jobs to the Vacaville area.

Construction crews have been working on the foundations, and the first walls are expected to start being hoisted next week.

"They have certainly got it under construction," Vacaville Economic Development Manager Mike Palumbo said Monday.

State Fund is a nonprofit insurance company that provides employee compensation insurance protection for businesses. It was created by the state in 1914. If everything goes according to plan, the complex is expected to open for business in late 2008 or early 2009, according to Palumbo.

Vacaville first started talking to State Fund about coming to town in August 2005, "then there was a hiatus period when they were looking at other sites for some time," Palumbo said.

Last year, State Fund began getting permits and preparing the ground for construction on the five-building complex.

The project is on a 32-acre site adjacent to the Genentech plant, which is located on New Horizons Way between Interstate 80 and Highway 505. The first phase of construction involves three of the five buildings.

Palumbo stated that State Fund is expected to create between 1,200 and 2,000 jobs. The complex will be one of the biggest office projects in the city, and Palumbo called it "a very important breakthrough" for Vacaville.

"It is the right fit for what we are doing," Vacaville City Councilwoman Pauline Clancy said of the project. "It's a great feather in our cap."

Clancy and Palumbo both noted that the jobs State Fund brings to the area will pay an average of $45,000 a year. City officials probably took note of that in helping the State Fund complex a reality.

"We have been working with them to make it easy for them to move in there," Clancy said.

State Fund has its 16-story headquarters in downtown San Francisco and provides insurance to about 250 business associations across California.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Solano County should plan to add 12,985 new housing units between 2007 and 2014

Adding New Homes

State mandates a look ahead

By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

Article Launched: 07/27/2007 07:13:13 AM PDT

Solano County should plan to add 12,985 new housing units between 2007 and 2014, mostly in Vacaville, Fairfield and Vallejo, according to a draft housing report released by the Association of Bay Area Governments this month.

The draft Regional Housing Need Allocation says Vacaville will need 2,901 new units, while Fairfield will need 3,796 units and Vallejo will need 3,100 units.

The process is a state mandate on planning for housing in California. Regional and local jurisdictions also have a role to play. In the case of ABAG, the state determines the regional need and ABAG allocates that need to the jurisdictions.

Each city decides just where the housing will be built.

Several local government officials said the report's recommendations were along what they had anticipated.

"They're kind of what we expected for the county," said Supervisor Mike Reagan. "This is a much more palatable outcome than what happened last time."

Reagan said the numbers assigned last time around were far too high, Vacaville City Councilman Chuck Dimmick agreed.

Dimmick served on the committee that developed the recommended methodology for the report. He agreed that the recommendations in the last report - put together in 1998 for the years 1999 through 2006 - were unrealistic, pegged at 18,681 for the county and 4,636 for Vacaville.

He said the latest recommendations are still too high for his taste but "it's much more achievable than the last one."

ABAG is accepting public comment on its recommendations until Sept. 18, and will then have 60 days to respond to requests for revisions. After the revisions, local governments will have an additional 60 days to appeal the revised numbers, with a public hearing on the appeals scheduled for 2008.

Final allocations will be made by April of next year, and adopted by June.

The recommendations are divided into four income categories - very low, low, moderate, and above moderate. The challenge, according to Reagan and Dimmick, is to meet the very low and low recommendations.

"We live in a market-driven society," he said. "Everybody realizes that cities can't subsidize that quantity of low- and very-low-income housing. If we lived in North Dakota, we might be able to. In California, it's almost impossible."

However, Dimmick said the city of Vacaville is still sensitive to the need for low-cost housing, and is trying to meet the goal by converting older apartment buildings.

Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, who was also on the Housing Methodology Committee for ABAG, said she was glad to see the report allocate more housing to bigger cities, such as San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.

"It's the fairest it's ever been," she said of the report. "It took smart growth into account and reasoned that it makes sense to allocate houses in communities that have good transit systems."

Dimmick said many locals feel that too much housing has been built in Vacaville recently, and that the report may lead to even more development. He emphasized the numbers do not reflect how many new units the city has to build, but rather what local governments should prepare for.

"It's a target that we should plan for in our general plan," he explained. "If your general plan is not in compliance, you're basically put under the microscope" and could be fined or denied funds by the state.

Dimmick also said the perception of too many homes being built in Vacaville is not accurate. He said some residents he's spoken to recently estimated the number of houses built in the last few years at 2,000 to 2,500, when in fact the average in the last three to four years has been just 200 to 325 houses per year.

"People look at us and say, 'We're growing out of control,' " Dimmick said. "But we really aren't."

Shelly Meron can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

FSC Insurance Solutions to expand in Suisun City

FSC Insurance Solutions to expand in Suisun City

SUISUN CITY - FSC Insurance Solutions, a business unit of Fiserv, Inc., will be expanding its existing offices at One Harbor Center in Suisun City. One Harbor Center is owned by The Wiseman Company LLC, and Kirk Hull of The Wiseman Company represented both parties in leasing the additional 4,057 square feet.

FSC Insurance Solutions is a provider of personal lines rating solutions for the insurance industry. It provides systems for more than 6,500 customers nationwide, including agents, brokers and insurance companies.

Fiserv, Inc., a Fortune 500 company, provides management systems and services to financial and insurance industries. It serves more than 18,000 clients worldwide including U.S banks, credit unions and thrifts.

Old Parts For New

Old Parts For New
Fairfield-Based Copart Celebrates 25 Years
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

Copart founder and current CEO Willis Johnson around the time the company was founded. (Courtesy photo)

FAIRFIELD - When Willis Johnson bought Vallejo's BTS auto salvage yard in 1982, he could not have imagined that a quarter-century later, his firm would be the largest of its kind in the world. But it is.

Copart, the world's largest liquidator of insurance-owned vehicles, with more than 130 locations and 2,500 employees, now headquartered in Fairfield, celebrates 25 years in business with an event next month, spokeswoman Marla Pugh said.

The firm has been named to Forbes' magazine's Best Small Companies List for seven consecutive years, and this year to Business Week's Best Small Companies list, Pugh said.

It was Johnson's vision and his willingness to "embrace technology" that helped him turn a small Vallejo business into a $2.4 billion international corporation, company president Jay Adair said. But Johnson's childhood may also have played a role.

Johnson inherited his work ethic from his illiterate, entrepreneurial, dairy owner father, according to a company statement.

Copart, which now sells vehicles to more than 100,000 buyers in 86 counties, began in 1946 as Bob's Towing Service, Adair said.

"It was originally owned by Bob Kukuruza, of Vallejo, who was picking up damaged cars and didn't know what to do them, so he started auctioning them," Adair said. "At the time, Willis Johnson was a buyer, and when Kukuruza retired in 1982, (Johnson) bought it. He changed the name to Copart around 1986."

A former Sacramento-area vehicle dismantler, Willis had formed a cooperative of auto parts sellers that he christened "Copart," and he'd kept the name, Adair said.

Within the first few years after buying the salvage yard, Johnson added sites in several nearby towns, Adair said.

"And then in 1996, he embraced the technology of the Internet, which permitted us to work with buyers worldwide. Before that, it was mostly a local operation. Now it's a global business," he said.

The ability to see the possibilities may be behind the firm's phenomenal success, Adair said.

"Vision is a big part of it," Adair said. "If he didn't have the vision, we'd be a small company today."

Johnson took the company public in 1994, allowing the firm to expand outside of Northern California. And as it grew, its technology improved. Its own computer system - The Copart Auction System - was devised, and in 1998, Copart began allowing buyers to bid for cars online, the statement says. The idea "took off. It tore down the geographical barriers and allowed people from all over the world to buy vehicles from the convenience of their computer," it adds.

Company officials credit a 2004 companywide "cultural revolution" with the firm's success in helping Hurricane Katrina clean-up efforts permitting the processing of tens of thousands of storm-damaged vehicles, according to the statement.

Most recently, Copart's begun making corporate inroads across the pond, Adair said.

"We just expanded into England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland," Adair said. "That's our big push - to expand into Europe. That's the next 25 years."

Johnson, left, with Copart president Jay Adair ourside their Fairfield corporate headquarters in 2007. (Courtesy photo)

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.

Better Process For City Sewage At $100 Million

Better Process For City Sewage At $100 Million
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Visitors check out the secondary treatment tanks Thursday at the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Elmira. (Joel Rosenbaum/The Reporter)

Vacaville city officials, staff and other guests gathered Thursday in Elmira to commemorate a project worth about $100 million and nearly a decade in the making.

"This is a great event for us, as you might imagine," said Public Works Director Dale Pfeiffer as he welcomed the audience to Vacaville's renovated and expanded Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was officially dedicated Thursday.

Speaking in front of the plant's new Administration and Control building, Pfeiffer said the project increases the city's wastewater treatment capacity to 15 million gallons per day.

Mayor Len Augustine said the plant expansion is "the largest public works project in the city of Vacaville." Augustine also pointed out the plant's implications for economic development and vitality, as businesses take basic infrastructure into account when they consider locating or expanding in Vacaville.

"This is a really important step in our future," Augustine said. "The Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant is a great big deal."

Walsh Pacific Construction won the contract for the work in 2001, and the funding was provided by a state revolving fund loan, the State Water Resources Control Board, sewer development impact fees and sewer rate payers. According to City Manager David Van Kirk, "This was not an easy project."

"We had an existing plant that we had to continue to operate," Van Kirk said, adding, "Certainly, our work is not over."

The city manager praised the foresight that was involved in the planning and construction of the plant. He explained that it is designed to accommodate further upgrades, whether they are necessitated by the city's growth or the state requires the city to adopt more stringent treatment standards.

The plant's doors remained open after the dedication for an open house and walking and bus tours. The first stops on the walking tour took visitors to the control room, the plant's nerve center and the place where data is transmitted and monitored, and then to the water quality laboratory, where 24,000 tests were conducted on 9,700 samples in the past year.

The rest of the tour was a firsthand look at the physical and biological processes that occur before treated wastewater can be released into the environment. Other stops included the pumps that convey the raw sewage into the plant, and the aeration basins, where microorganisms play an important part in the process by breaking down and absorbing material in the water.

Visitors also saw and heard how biosolids are treated and dried and how they eventually are used as cover material in landfills or for agricultural purposes. Treated water that goes through the rest of the process is chlorinated, and then dechlorinated, before it is released through an outfall pipe.

According to Jim Waters, primary engineer with design firm West Yost and Associates, "The plant is performing even better than expected."

"We are relieved and very happy to see it all done," Waters said. "A lot of people put a lot of work into it, and I think the results are very good."

Before the new facility was built - immediately south of the existing plant - Pfeiffer said that plant underwent three or four expansions of its own. That plant is being tied into the new one, according to public works staff, and will be put back into service in the near future, allowing the whole operation to reach a 15-million gallon per day capacity.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at vacaville@thereporter.com.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Vacaville City Council acts to attract Asian Market

Shopping center gets boost by city council

By Jennifer Gentile/ /Staff Writer

Article Launched: 07/25/2007 01:35:13 AM PDT

The Vacaville City Council acted Tuesday night to help an Asian Market come to town and stimulate a beleaguered shopping center.

The ruling was prompted by a situation at the Peabody Center on Peabody Road, which, according to city staff, has been faltering for two decades.

The problem the center has faced, staff explained, is not unique in the city and stems from the loss of its grocery store.

The center once housed Lucky's market, and later Chandler's Furniture. Grocery stores attract a steady stream of shoppers who patronize other businesses as well, according to staff, and the entire center suffers when that operation leaves.

A specialty Asian grocery store has leased the building in the Peabody Center, but in doing so received an unpleasant surprise. Owners were under the impression that because the site was originally a grocery store, moving in would not trigger new development impact fees.

In fact, the ownership was put on the hook for an unexpected $76,277 expense, which is the difference in development impact fees for a grocery versus a retail use. According to a staff report, the fee credits for the original grocery store were lost when Chander's Furniture replaced it.

"Financially, it was a big shock," said proprietor Ann Lewald, who operates a similar operation in Pleasant Hill called County Square Market. "It was an additional almost $80,000 we had not anticipated."

The council accepted staff's solution - an ordinance allowing the transfer of impact fee credits.

City rules have limited the use of these credits to the downtown commercial district, but under the ordinance, the city manager has the authority to transfer them to other areas.

With the credits transferred, the business stands to pay $33,000 less in fees, Economic Development Manager Mike Palombo has said.

In spite of the decline that has occurred at the center, Lewald said, "I think the location is great."

"I know the center right now is a little depressed," she said, "but we can update it and bring new life to it."

The council seemed equally enthusiastic about the idea, including Vice Mayor Chuck Dimmick who said, "I think it's a great move"

Councilman Steve Wilkins said, "Not only is it a good idea to introduce an Asian food market to our community, but it's also an important way to revitalize a shopping center that has seen better days."

Lewald said she hopes to open her market by Thanksgiving of this year.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at vacaville@thereporter.com.

Solano County and its cities planning an additional 13,000 new houses, condominiums and apartments by 2014

July 26, 2007

Thousands of homes targeted for Solano County

By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Solano County and its cities could have to make room for almost 13,000 new houses, condominiums and apartments by 2014 to meet their shares of state housing targets.

The Association of Bay Area Governments released the draft numbers earlier this week. The agency assigns the state-imposed Bay Area housing numbers among the region's nine counties.

Fairfield is supposed to provide 3,796 housing units, under the proposal. That means the city must zone enough land so the units can be built, should developers step forward to do so.

The city can find the room for the units within its growth boundaries, Assistant Community Development Director Eve Somjen said today.

"It's not shocking or out of the ordinary," she said. "The total number is consistent with our projections, bearing in mind that there's been a downturn in housing construction."

But the housing assignments go further. Of that total number, Fairfield is to plan for 873 units for very low income residents, 562 units for low-income residents and 675 units for moderate-income residents.

"The challenge is going to be meeting the goals of the different income categories," Somjen said.

Rural Solano County must allow for only 99 housing units over the coming seven years. The reflects local policy that growth should take place in cities.

The draft numbers show Benicia providing 532 housing units, Dixon 728, Rio Vista 1,219, Suisun City 610 , Vacaville 2,901 and Vallejo 3,100 homes.

TJX Companies (Marshalls and T.J. Maxx) will open a 3,400 sq ft administrative office in Green Valley Executive Center

July 26, 2007

TJX Companies (Marshalls and T.J. Maxx) will open a 3,400 sq ft administrative office in Green Valley Executive Center

Contact: Patti Magee, Executive Assistant

The Wiseman Company is pleased to announce that The TJX Companies, Inc. (parent company of Marshalls and T.J. Maxx retail stores) will be opening a 3,400 square foot administrative office in their Green Valley Executive Center building. Kirk Hull of The Wiseman Company LLC represented both the Lessor and the Lessee in the transaction.

With over $17 billion in revenues in 2006, eight businesses, more than 2,400 stores, and approximately 125,000 associates, The TJX Companies, Inc. is the largest apparel and home fashions off-price retailer in the U.S. and worldwide. TJX ranked 133rd in the most recent FORTUNE 500 rankings. TJX’s off-price concepts include T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and A.J. Wright stores in the U.S.

The Wiseman Company is a full-service commercial real estate firm offering brokerage, development, investment and management services to Solano, Napa, and Yolo counties. For more information, contact Kirk Hull at 707.427.1212 or at khull@WisemanCo.com


University of California, Davis
July 26, 2007


UC Davis achieved a nearly 25 percent jump in private support last year with gifts totaling more than $101 million.

Through the help of more than 44,000 donors, including alumni, parents, students, organizations and other friends, UC Davis raised nearly $101.2 million in gifts, pledges and private grants during the
2006-07 fiscal year. This represents a nearly 25 percent increase from the $81.5 million raised the year before and is the fifth consecutive year that philanthropic support has grown. The 2006-07 totals are pending a final year-end review.

"We couldn't be happier or prouder that UC Davis has received this strong vote of confidence from private supporters," said Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. "They are partners in our commitment to provide an outstanding, affordable education to our students and to find solutions to society's most pressing problems."

Gifts and philanthropic grants provided a wide range of support for students, faculty and programs. Examples include a land donation that will enable the development of a medical facility in Rocklin, and a gift to establish the Familia Ruedas Cal Aggie Alumni Association Scholarship, which will help first-generation U.S. residents attain a UC Davis education.

The 15 acres of Rocklin land valued at $8.17 million was donated to UC Davis by River South Holdings, LLC, which is a development company composed of five local partners. It is the largest gift of the year to UC Davis as well as the largest gift in the history of the UC Davis Health System.

Alumnus and American River College counselor Manuel Ruedas '76 created the $10,000 scholarship fund out of gratitude for his educational experience at UC Davis. Ruedas is a first-generation citizen of the United States who hopes to encourage other first-generation students to attend college.

Thirteen donors made gifts of $1 million or more. In addition to the River South Holdings, LLC, land donation, these gifts included:

* $1 million bequest toward student support from Freemond E. "Pete"
Gadberry '67 to the Department of Art. The gift is the largest ever for the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies.
* $2 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to launch a communitywide research initiative called the Early Detection and Intervention for the Prevention of Psychosis Program.
* $1.1 million from the estate of Dolores Fry to the Advanced Surgery Training Program at the School of Veterinary Medicine.
* More than $5 million from a private company to support experiential learning for undergraduate students studying agriculture in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Each of UC Davis' four colleges and five professional schools received private support, with the health system recording the highest amount at $34.6 million, followed by the School of Veterinary Medicine at $18.1 million, and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at $15.8 million.

Forty-eight percent of the philanthropic total was directed toward research. Student support -- including scholarships and fellowships
-- received 12 percent, while department/faculty support received 9 percent. Campus improvement and other program support received the remaining 31 percent.

Of the $101 million, a total of $24.8 million was committed to permanently invested funds -- or endowments -- to provide ongoing support for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, research and other university programs. Donors directed $7 million of these endowed funds to support the university through the UC Davis Foundation. The foundation, established in 1959, receives private gifts to benefit UC Davis, invests its endowed gift funds and other private assets, and advises university leaders in areas related to public trust and support. The foundation board of trustees is currently chaired by UC Davis alumna Meg Stallard '68.

More than 18,000 donors supported the Annual Fund in 2006-07, giving a record $1.9 million. The chancellor allocates Annual Fund gifts to areas of greatest need, including student and faculty support.

UC Davis receives about 21 percent of its total budget from the state, and receives additional support from a variety of funding sources, including donors. UC Davis crossed the $100 million threshold once before, in the 2001-02 fiscal year, when the university raised $110 million, including a gift of $35 million from Robert and Margrit Mondavi.

According to Beverly Sandeen, vice chancellor for University Relations and president of the UC Davis Foundation, this year's leap in giving is a result of an increased focus on philanthropic support by both the university and the community.

"We know how valuable private support can be in accomplishing our public mission," Sandeen says. "We have ramped up our fundraising efforts and are spending more time in the community, talking to alumni and other individuals, corporations and foundations about how profoundly they can impact the world by giving to UC Davis."

Media contact(s):
* Tom Hinds, University Communications, (530) 752-8694, thinds@ucdavis.edu
* Mitchel Benson, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9844, mdbenson@ucdavis.edu

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 .
More university news and an experts directory:

To unsubscribe, please send an e-mail message to newsservice@ucdavis.edu.
UC Davis News Service
One Shields Avenue
Davis, California 95616-8687
Phone: (530) 752-1930; Fax: (530) 752-4068

$2.3B In Caltrans Projects Ready To Go To Bid

$2.3B In Caltrans Projects Ready To Go To Bid
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

About $2.3 billion worth of local Caltrans projects, all 286 slated for this fiscal year, are ready to go to bid, the agency has announced.

Caltrans officials consider it a major accomplishment to have "successfully delivered 100 percent of its scheduled transportation projects on time," according to an agency statement. A long, tedious process precedes sending such projects out to contractors for proposals, said chief engineer Rick Land.

Getting all 286 of this year's projects to the "ready-to-list" point by its self-imposed deadline is a Caltrans milestone, spokesman David Anderson said.

All 12 of Caltrans' district directors signed "Contracts for Delivery" with director Will Kempton to "send a strong signal that the department is prepared to handle the tidal wave of new transportation projects" expected as a result of November 2006 voter approval of a nearly $20 billion transportation bond, Anderson said.

This year's local Caltrans projects prepared for bid include:

• $25 million in ramp paving, barriers and other safety improvements for Interstate 80 in Solano County;

• Nearly $8 million to restore an I-80 rest area in Solano County;

• $8.4 million for construction of a truck climbing lane on Highway 12 in Solano County;

• $3.5 million for re-paving on Highway 29 in Napa County;

• $750,000 for re-paving a portion of Solano County Route 12 ;

• $658,000 for replanting landscaping along part of Highway 29 in Napa County;

• About $500,000 to clear culverts along I-680 in Solano County;

• $1.1 million for congestion-relief measures along I-80 in Solano County;

• $1 million to apply sealant to a bridge deck on Route 12;

• $1.2 million to improve I-680's Lake Herman vista point.

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.

City of Benicia Reaches State Historic Status

City of Benicia Reaches State Historic Status
By SARA STROUD/Times-Herald correspondent
Vallejo Times Herald

Seventeen years after Benicia adopted a plan to preserve its historic buildings, the city's being acknowledged by the state of California for its efforts.

On Aug. 3, the state will officially recognize Benicia as a Certified Local Government - a distinction shared by only 53 other communities in California, state officials said.

Benicia's certified status means it uses the same standards as the state and federal governments to identify and manage its historical resources, Lucinda Woodward, a state historian said. Some of the standards include having a preservation review commission, surveying systems and a mechanism for public involvement.

"It's an affirmation of what we've been doing," Benicia Community Development Director Charlie Knox said.

The certification gives local preservation programs "a sense of credibility," Woodward said. "It has a certain cachet."

Certified local governments are also eligible to apply for state grants to fund preservation programs. This year's grants have already been awarded, but Benicia will be able to apply next year, Woodward said.

"Every little bit helps," Knox said.

Benicia's certification coincides with the Historic Preservation Commission review of the city's historic structure inventory, its first in 15 years, Knox said.

Anheuser-Busch Enjoys Healthy Sales, Profits

Anheuser-Busch Enjoys Healthy Sales, Profits
By Christopher Leonard/AP Business Writer

ST. LOUIS - Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., the nation's largest brewer, said Wednesday that higher beer prices and stronger demand helped push its profit up 6.1 percent in the second quarter on a similar rise in sales.

The maker of Budweiser, Bud Light and other beers earned $677 million, or 88 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30, up from $638 million, or 82 cents per diluted share, in the same period in 2006. Net sales after excise taxes also rose 6.1 percent to $4.52 billion from $4.26 billion.

The company, which operates a brewery in Fairfield, also said its board has raised the regular quarterly dividend rate by 11.9 percent to 33 cents from 29.5 cents per share. The higher rate is payable Sept. 10 to shareholders of record on Aug. 9.

Anheuser-Busch shares rose 47 cents to close at $49.59 on Wednesday.

Economic Outlook Vibrant In Solano

Economic Outlook Vibrant In Solano
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

Commercial real estate is flourishing in Solano County and will continue to grow, according to experts at Wednesday's Solano EDC Real Estate Round-Up Breakfast event.

Brooks Pedder, of Colliers International, told the audience of about 200 people that "things are actually really good" for commercial real estate in Solano County. Vacancies are down, rents are rising for the first time in about six years, land values continue to rise, and many companies are migrating to the county from the Bay Area.

Specifically, Pedder said Vacaville has seen a drop in commercial vacancies from 17 percent last year to 9.8 percent this year. Fairfield has seen a drop from 19.9 percent last year to 8 percent this year.

Pedder said he believed the county will continue to grow at a healthy pace, with developments on Mare Island in Vallejo, a new Kaiser hospital in Vacaville, revitalization in Suisun City, and a future Genentech research facility in Dixon, just to name a few.

Solano EDC president Mike Ammann agreed, saying developments like those at Genentech and Touro University in Vallejo were the key to a strong economy in the future.

"It's really the best of times," he said. "These research deals are huge to us."

Speaker Jim Shepherd, of Cornish & Carey, discussed the retail side of the commercial real estate market in the area, outlining several ongoing and future projects, including the Nut Tree Village in Vacaville, Green Valley Corporate Park in Fairfield, the future Home Depot in Dixon, Northgate Marketplace in Vallejo and the Rose Center in Benicia.

Shepherd said things are going well in the market, with one of the only problems being the rise in construction costs - up 40 percent since 2004 according to Shepherd.

"We are definitely experiencing bumps in the building costs," he said.

Speaker Ron Vyse, of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Group, discussed real estate financing, saying he expected short-term interest rates to be flat through the first quarter of 2008, with long-term rates possibly going up.

Vyse said Solano County is "a gem," and said locals should expect to see more businesses moving in from the Bay Area.

There was little talk of the housing market at the event. But speaker Jose McNeill, of McNeill Real Estate, said after the event that the problems in the housing market all over California are serious.

"It's going to be a very tough thing," he said, particularly for those dealing with foreclosures, who will still have to pay taxes on the debt that is forgiven.

"That's the next shoe to drop," McNeill said. "People will declare bankruptcy because they can't pay off that debt. It's going to take a while for Solano County and the state as a whole to recover."

At the same time, McNeill said many people are still moving into California, which will lead to home prices stabilizing soon.

Shelly Meron can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

Experts: County Hot Spot For Businesses Looking To Expand

Experts: County Hot Spot For Businesses Looking To Expand
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - Solano County has what growing companies are seeking: available land. Industry experts on Wednesday explored the county's growth potential in a panel discussion hosted by the Solano Economic Development Corporation.

With the county linking Sacramento and San Francisco, the experts agreed that Solano will continue to see a migration of companies looking to expand or relocate. But they also stressed the supply of land will not be available for long.

"The migration of Bay Area companies to Solano County picked up in the fourth quarter of 2006 after a period of cooling off," said Brooks Pedder, a managing partner with Colliers International in Fairfield. "The migration will continue because we have land and at affordable prices compared to other areas. This will give us an opportunity to attract more research centers that will bring high paying jobs to the county."

According to Pedder, the county's proximity to large universities in Davis and Berkeley makes its prime location for research facilities. Companies such as Genentech, Gymboree and NorthBay are already working on expansion projects.

The problem, Pedder pointed out, is that available land for new facilities will run out in the next three to five years.

"In the future, we will decide where our next research location will be," he said. "But now bringing those research centers, like Genentech in Dixon, translates to the high paying jobs that we wanted. Hopefully we can become a cluster for facilities like that."

In the retail segment of the real estate market, Solano County continues to see growth throughout the seven cities, with companies such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Longs Drugs showing interest, said Jim Shepherd, a sales associate in the Walnut Creek office of Cornish & Carey.

"Although rents are rising in the market, we will not experience a slowdown," Shepherd said. "In retail, everyone is still building. This means that land prices are going up. But Solano County is in a good position."

Solano County's economy is also vulnerable to other factors. As the world continues to shrink economic borders, the county will compete with foreign countries attracting manufacturing facilities and commercial real estate.

"Brazil, Russia, China and India are emerging economies that are attracting a lot of capital," said Jose McNeill, founder of McNeill Real Estate Services. "Those countries are attracting manufacturing plants, commercial space and the materials needed by builders.

"The biggest obstacle for Solano County is infrastructure. The emerging countries are building infrastructure faster."

McNeill added that if the county cannot meet companies' land and infrastructure needs, it will lose the opportunity to attract them here.

"We have ready land, great weather and a great location, in addition to a lot of support for the business community," he said. "We need to train people locally so that they can perform the jobs in the manufacturing and the research sector, for when those jobs come here."

In closing, Solano EDC President Michael Ammann summarized the panel's objective.

"We have value and product," Amman said. "We have buildings and people ready to work.

"We are in a good place where companies are starting to not only know about Solano County, but also recognizing it."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or ibebea@dailyrepublic.net.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Copart To Acquire UK-based Company

Copart To Acquire UK-based Company
By Daily Republic staff

FAIRFIELD - Copart Inc. on Tuesday announced plans to acquire Century Salvage Sales Limited, a vehicle salvage/disposal company in the United Kingdom.

By acquiring the company, Copart increases its number of salvage facilities in the United Kingdom to 10 and its worldwide total to 134.

The transaction is expected to be completed by Aug. 1.

Copart provides vehicle suppliers with services to sell salvage vehicles to licensed dismantlers, rebuilders and used vehicle dealers.

Transportation Projects On The Way

Transportation Projects On The Way
By Daily Republic staff

FAIRFIELD - Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, on Tuesday announced $4.1 million in funding for local transportation improvements in and around the Bay Area. The projects are part of the 2008 Transportation/HUD Appropriations bill.

Continued funding was made available for an intermodal station for Fairfield and Vacaville. At the crossroads of Jepson Parkway and Peabody Road, 1 mile north of Travis Air Force Base, the station will provide car, bus, bike, van pool and pedestrian access to Amtrak's Capitol Corridor line.

"These projects represent a wide array of transportation solutions designed to relieve congestion, get us out of our cars when possible and provide alternatives to traditional ways of getting around," Tauscher said in a statement.

"Whether you are driving, walking, biking or taking a train these projects will help make your commute safer and shorter."

Monday, July 23, 2007

University of Phoenix (with Fairfield Campus) receives business accreditation

University receives business accreditation
Sacramento Business Journal - 12:49 PM PDT Monday, July 23, 2007by Kelly JohnsonStaff writer

University of Phoenix, which has four local centers but does not disclose enrollment, has received accreditation for its business programs.

The college announced Monday that it received accreditation for its business programs from the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs. Only a quarter of all business schools earn program accreditation from one of the two business schools accrediting organizations.

Firm Turns 25

Firm Turns 25

Fairfield-based Copart Inc. will celebrate its 25-year anniversary with a celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m Aug. 23. The event will be held at Copart's corporate headquarters, 4665 Business Center Dr., Fairfield.

Fairfield mayor Harry Price and other local officials will be at the event and will honor Copart with a short presentation. There will be music, drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and a performance by the Rodriguez High School band.

RSVP by August 2 to Jamie O'Reilly at jamie.oreilly@copart.com, or by calling 639-5303.

Empress Ready To Rule Downtown Vallejo

Empress Ready To Rule Downtown Vallejo
Developer Hopes To Spur Revitalization Efforts With Theatre's $6.7 Million Renovation
By Rich Freedman/Times-Herald, Vallejo

Randy Bobst-McKay (right), general manager of The Empress Theatre, talks about some of the challenges in renovating the 95-year-old building and anticipating the needs of community groups who will be using the theater. Triad's Dave Egan (left), director of project development and intimately involved in the work, listens. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald, Vallejo)

She's 95 and her future looks bright.

Nothing like a $6.7 million facelift to perk the ol' gal up.

The Empress Theatre, downtown's theoretically commercial Holy Grail, is about to begin its next life after a rocky road to renovation.

"There's been rumors and innuendo all around. It's been challenging, as all renovation projects are," said Dave Egan, director of project development for Triad Communities.

With programming earmarked for a fall opening, "we're getting close," Egan said. "It's really cool."

Egan, architect John Howland of Arc Inc., theater general manager Randy Bobst-McKay, and Triad publicist Hatti Hamlin led the Times-Herald on an informal tour last week.

The intimate theater - once 940 seats, the capacity is now about 470 - is of ornate decor and conforming to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The elegant Empress is almost ready for an anticipated mixed bag of art movies, live shows and community events.

A serious challenge, Howland said, was figuring all the potential uses into the small space, while maintaining the 470 seats and architectural design.

"What's unique about what we did is what you can't see," Howland said.

The structure's extensive and expensive seismic upgrade included drilling between bricks, using thick rebar with epoxy grout, Howland said. Steel wraps the building, tying the sides to the frame.

"It keeps it all safe and sound," Egan said.

From the time Howland first began the project, 95 percent of the original building was retained, accomplishing the goal and mandate of "keeping it a historical building," he said.

"There have been some compromises," Howland said. "But compromises we can live with."

Though the stage is new "and geared for modern performances," the neon marquee is definitely out of the 1950s, Egan said. The theater showcases two box offices, wheelchair accessible restrooms, a sound and light booth, and expandable stage that Egan hopes will lure the Vallejo Symphony.

"I see no reason why they wouldn't come here," Egan said of the orchestra that calls Hogan High School home. "Hopefully, they will see the light."

Bobst-McKay agreed that keeping the theater spotless presents a challenge, particularly with the obligatory popcorn available for patrons during motion pictures.

What's allowed inside the theater "will depend on the event," Bobst-McKay said. "If we have red wine available (in the lobby), you better believe we don't want any in here."

Theater maintenance is one reason only the aisles are carpeted, with a cleaning-friendly flooring around the seats.

Bobst-McKay believes most of the fall events will be fund-raisers, with a full slate of commercial events kicking in around the first part of 2008.

"We want to assure financial viability," Bobst-McKay said, noting that other cities have renovated theaters only to find money scarce.

"They've had to beg for civic funds or close the doors," Bobst-McKay said. "We don't need that."

Expect plenty of films at the start, Egan said, "because the set up time is so little. It does need to stay in operation year-round."

"(Art films) are probably the least expensive form of entertainment," added Bobst-McKay. "There are no art houses around here."

Bobst-McKay saw "no reason" why there couldn't be an eventual Vallejo Film Festival.

"Or we can certainly be part of other established film festivals," Egan said. "This really is a special venue."

Fundraising projects are in the works, Bobst-McKay said, including sponsoring a seat or even naming the backstage Green Room.

As for whether a successful theater would launch downtown or a successful downtown will boost the theater?

"It's a chicken and egg thing," Egan said. "Both depend on each other. The success of this place helps other new projects and business in downtown. A thriving theater begets restaurants and some other venues that would stay open later than 5 p.m. A new vitality downtown is what we need."

This past Thursday's farewell salute to Celeste Smeland of the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation was the first step, Bobst-McKay said.

"It was an operational test to see what this building is like with a crowd in it," Bobst-McKay said.

Renovation of the Empress has taken time. But the public's patience will be rewarded, Egan said.

"The proof is in the pudding," Egan said smiling. "It's been a labor of love."

Set For Grand Debut

Set For Grand Debut
Pace Of Work Quickens At New High School Site
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

Construction continues at the site of Dixon's new high school on Friday. Some facilities won't be completed until September. (Steve McKay/The Reporter)

With an Aug. 15 deadline approaching, the new Dixon High School is close to completion, but with quite a few last minute touches still to go.

"It's pretty scary, if you look around, to think we'll be ready to open in a few weeks," said Ed Eusebio, senior director of school facilities for the Dixon Unified School District. "It's amazing what can happen in one day."

Although the high school grounds behind Hall Park and the May Fair grounds are still dusty because of construction, all the classrooms are finished and waiting for furniture, according to Eusebio.

"We're getting brand new furniture for everything," he said. "Very little will be moved from the old campus."

A grand opening at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 11 will give the community a chance to tour the state-of-the-art facility.

"I'm very excited for the community to see the end-product," said Shana Levine, vice president of the District's Board of Education. "The entire public is welcome at the opening ceremony. It's a beautiful facility that will last."

Each classroom will have a handful of computers and a DVD projector for the 1,200 students starting school Aug. 15. Each classroom has censored lighting and great big windows as well. A kiln also is being built on campus for the ceramics classes.

"The kids have no idea of what kind of opportunities they're going to experience," Levine said.

Some things, however, won't be completed until September.

The performing arts theater won't be ready to use until September and the athletic fields won't be ready for use until the spring.

"In construction we always like to be ahead and not behind," said Eusebio, adding that the four months of rain in 2006 really put the project behind.

"We tried to recover some of the time. The most difficult parts are pretty much complete."

Construction of the cafeteria, Eusebio said, is really coming down to the wire, but he said not to worry.

"Not having the cafeteria ready won't prevent us from opening on time," he said. "We'll just have to make the appropriate arraignments."

Levine isn't discouraged either by some of the late openings on campus.

"We're talking about weeks and weeks don't make a difference," she said. "It doesn't really bother me. What we're talking about is really insignificant."

Levine explained that there wouldn't have been any performances in the theater in the first few weeks of school anyway and the athletic field, even if it was finished wouldn't be used until the spring.

The new high school cost $75 million and has the capacity for 2,200 students, a number the district won't see for quite a while.

"There is a lot of space for the kids to grow," Eusebio added.

The school campus sits on 80 acres donated to the district, 50 acres for buildings and athletic fields and 30 acres for the school's farm.

Dixon Unified School District Facilities Director Ed Eusebio on Friday looks over construction near what will be athletic fields at Dixon's new high school off Country Faire Drive in Dixon. Eusebio has played a leading role in the project. (Steve McKay/The Reporter)

Melissa Murphy can be reached at dixon@thereporter.com.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Five New Solano County Building Projects Coming Soon

Five New Solano County Building Projects Coming Soon
By ROBERT MCCOCKRAN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

Work on a Solano County building project in Vallejo could begin as early as next month, the assistant county administrator said Tuesday.

"We have a schedule and it's rather ambitious. But we hope to (begin) prequalification of contractors by the end of August," said Veronica Ferguson.

There are five projects in the county, including a new building on the Vallejo Tuolumne Street "campus."

"We're remodeling the existing 355 (Tuolumne St.) and we're also remodeling a portion of the upstairs of the Justice Center (across the street at 321 Tuolumne St.) - about 9,000 square feet," Ferguson said.

County health officer Ron Chapman said the new building will be built on the parking lot next to the present building. The third floor will hold a new clinic and it will be almost triple the square footage, Chapman said.

"There is health-related clinic space and social service programs, primarily employment and eligibility. But our older adult program will also go in there," Ferguson said.

The district attorney's and public defender's offices will be in the remodeled building and there will be "some additional health and social service programs," Ferguson said.

The Probation Department will go into the Justice Center. Presently, probation services are offered at both the Justice Center and 355 Tuolumne St.

"We anticipate that the new building in Vallejo will have substantial completion and move-in in September '09," she said.

In Fairfield, at the campus on Beck Avenue and Courage Drive, a new building for a lab and a clinic will be built and a portion of 2101 Courage Drive will be remodeled, she said.

"The actual schedule shows us going in and making the last move-in at 2101 Courage in October 2009," she said.

The intent is to use existing staff to deliver the services.

"(The improvements) will allow us to centralize services so it will facilitate access to those services," Ferguson said. "Right now those services are in different locations in Vallejo. With the modification, people will be able to go to the one site."

The county will, however, continue to have some neighborhood- based services, she said.

Solano EDC Breakfast To Include Growth Talk

Solano EDC Breakfast To Include Growth Talk
By Reporter Staff

Real estate experts will discuss the growth of the region's commercial and industrial real estate market and offer forecasts at the Solano EDC Real Estate Round Up Breakfast, set for 8 a.m. July 25, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Topics and speakers include Brooks Pedder of Colliers International discussing business and industrial parks; Jose McNeill of McNeill Real Estate speaking about global real estate trends; Jim Shepherd of Cornish & Carey discussing retail; and, Ron Vyse of Wells Fargo Commercial Banking Group speaking about real estate financing.

The event will be at the Hilton Garden Inn, 2200 Gateway Blvd., Fairfield. The cost is $25 for Solano EDC members and $35 for non-members or those who don't pre-register.

Space is limited. Register by calling 864-1855.

House Plan Elevations Are Given High Marks

House Plan Elevations Are Given High Marks
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

The second time was a charm for house plans related to a Vacaville subdivision, which the Planning Commission approved unanimously Tuesday night.

Both the commission and the City Council have voted in favor of the Montessa Subdivision, a 58-lot, subdivision of single-family homes to be built on California Drive opposite Araquipa Court. Approximately 17 acres of the 40-acre site will be developed while the remainder will be designated hillside open space.

While the commission supported the project at its June 5 meeting, it wanted to take another look at the house plans at a later date. The panel had concerns about the elevations - front, side, and rear views - of the homes, since the rear and sides will be visible from adjacent neighborhoods and parks.

As Jill Williams, architect with KTGY Group, Inc. explained Tuesday night, the plans were amended to address these concerns. Details like gable roofs and window shutters were added to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the other sides of the homes.

"We've been working very carefully with city staff," Williams said. After the project was approved, she said, "It was really just addressing the four-sided nature of the homes, taking the details of the front elevations and wrapping them around the other sides of the homes so they are complete in their detailing."

The four proposed house plans reflect a mix of one- and two-story models. The largest is a 3,562-square-foot model with five bedrooms and three bathrooms while the smallest is a 2,065-square-foot model with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

A neighbor to the project, Lew Derfuss, stated a variety of concerns about Montessa as a whole.

"I'm opposed, I'm adamantly opposed to this," Derfuss said. "California Drive has a traffic congestion problem now." Responding to Derfuss's concern about how far up the hillside the homes would climb, Eric Peterson with developer Pavilion Communities said the homes would only extend about 25 feet vertically up the hill.

Frank Crim, one of the four commissioners who voted on the item, said he was concerned before about the rear of the homes looking like a flat wall with little detailing.

"I think it's great to go that extra step and do the right thing," Crim said. "All in all, I think it is a much better plan design."

Peterson said he expects construction to start in the summer of 2008.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at vacaville@thereporter.com.

The More The Merrier At Nut Tree

The More The Merrier At Nut Tree
By Ines Bebea

Anya Lynn of Fairfield talks with Capay Valley Farm Shop employee Russ Saunders while shopping for produce Tuesday at the Nut Tree complex in Vacaville. (Photo by Brad Zweerink)

VACAVILLE - Shopping, eating or just browsing at Nut Tree Village has the makings for a fun family outing. With the official grand opening slated for Aug. 11, the 37 shops and restaurants will offer a rainbow of diversions, styles and tastes for all ages.

"The park is a family-oriented destination," said Fred Steingraf, director of sales and marketing for Nut Tree. "In addition to enjoying the park, the market pavilion gives families places to enjoy a meal and shop."

The grand opening celebration will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a performance by the Vacaville Jazz Society. Newcomers to the market pavilion include Jelly Belly, Fentons Creamery, Villa Corona Mexican Restaurant, Capay Valley Farm Shop, Mariani Fruit Stand and Potter Family farms.

"We wanted to have a store at the Nut Tree because of what the park and the founders represent to the community," said Thomas Nelson, chief executive officer of Capay Valley. "We wanted to be associated with a name that has tradition. Nut Tree represents agricultural heritage, and our aim is to bridge the gap between farmers and customers."

Capay Valley Farm Shop, the retail venture of Capay Valley farmers, opened its flagship store last Thursday. The store is designed to give customers the feel of a farmers market, said Nelson, "but the difference is that we are opened every day."

Tradition and the focus on families are what attracted many businesses to Nut Tree Village. Carlos Villasenor's parents opened their first restaurant 40 years ago in Napa. The Villa Coronas Mexican Restaurant at Nut Tree Village is the fourth for the family-owned business.

"What sets our food apart from other Mexican restaurants is that this is the kind of food we serve to our friends and family when they come over for a visit," said Villasenor, whose restaurant opened last Thursday. "Our food is not gourmet, but our products are fresh and our presentation is part of the service. You really have to eat it to compare it to the rest."

Visitors to the Fentons Creamery can chose from 40 flavors of ice cream as well as a wide menu of sandwiches and Fenton favorites. Some of the fun requires no eating or drinking. Through a glass mirror, visitors can watch how the ice cream and ice cream pies are made daily.

"This location is 50 percent bigger than our store in Oakland," said Sam Zarnegar, director of operations for Fentons Creamery. "Nut Tree and Fentons Creamery are two old-timers getting together, with strong ties to the community."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or ibebea@dailyrepublic.net.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bio-Rad (with facilities in Benicia) signs multi-year agreements with Quest

Bio-Rad signs multi-year agreements with Quest
Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal - 8:17 AM PDT Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., a maker of life science research and clinical diagnostics products, said Tuesday it signed two multi-year agreements with Quest Diagnostics Inc.

Hercules-based BioRad (AMEX:BIO) did not disclose financial terms of the deal with New Jersey-based Quest (NYSE:DGX).

The agreement calls for Quest to place BioPlex 2200 systems and autoimmune test reagents as well as a Bio-Rad assay used for detecting HIV

Good Jobs, Affordable Homes in Solano County

Solano County - Good Jobs, Affordable Homes
Published: July 15, 2007
By Rich Heintz

Solano County is a job market poised to explode. Located between two economic engines – the Bay Area on the west and Sacramento on the east – this wide-open county has thousands of acres of vacant land already zoned and approved for office and industrial use.

Many companies have relocated from the Bay Area to take advantage of Solano County’s relatively affordable housing costs for their employees. "Companies are moving to Fairfield to be where their workers already live," explains Sean Quinn, director of Community Development for the city of Fairfield. "This greatly improves their worker’s quality of life since they are no longer on the road."

Remaining employees who find they must relocate are pleased to discover that they can sell their 1400-square-foot home in the Bay Area and buy a 2500-square-foot home in Solano County and "still have money left in their pocket." Vigorous Growth Quinn points out that the region has a seemingly limitless diversity of jobs, from entry-level manufacturing, back-office and executive jobs, to technical positions.

Mechanical skills are in particular demand, along with biotech credentials. Through the ten years ending in2014, the Employment Development Department estimates Solano County will add a total of 24,500 jobs, an increase of 17.7 percent.

Based on their predicted rates of growth, professions offering the most opportunity include registered nurses (up 48 percent), carpenters (up 38 percent), truck drivers (up 34 percent), customer service reps (up 33 percent), nursing aides (up 32 percent), first-line supervisors (up 29 percent), and construction laborers (up 27 percent). Other occupations offering plentiful openings include retail salespersons, cashiers, waiters and waitresses, office
clerks, and food preparation workers.

Another plus according to Quinn: The region offers a wide array of training programs, from community college programs linked to employers, to apprenticeships in the trades, including carpentry and plumbing.

Biotech Base

To Michael Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corp, the future of the region rests in its ability to continue to attract the biotech industry. Thanks to neighboring UC Davis and its status as a biotech center, Solano County has attracted a solid biotech base led by industry giant Genentech. The local community college also provides biotech training.
Yet Ammann, in an essay on his nonprofit organization’s website, bemoans the
fact that "the state of California has woefully failed to provide the dollars and incentives necessary to compete for this booming industry.

"Today, it no longer is a national competition to attract and maintain major employers in the biotech field – it is now an international competition. And the promotional dollars are flowing at enormous rates. Singapore and Scotland are two examples of how competitive the biotech field is worldwide."

In Singapore, Ammann notes, output from drug factories has jumped more than 30 percent in the past year alone, to a record $14.8 billion. Singapore has poured resources into academic and industry education, creating a pool of skilled
labor. It is graduating some 3500 university students each year, and another 3000 trained technicians. This has attracted four major companies in the past year: Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Lonza and Schering-Plough.

Ammann points out that Scotland is another example of a nation’s all-out effort to attract the biotechnology industry. Solano County Bristol-Myers Squibb recently broke ground in Devens, Scotland, for a $660-million bio-manufacturing plant. Insiders report that Scotland is working diligently to bring more major companies to the region.

"Solano County relies on its Economic Development Corp and local economic professionals to attract business," according to Ammann. It’s also got location, location, location, being situated between two major metropolitan areas
and two of the top research universities. The universities both receive financial support from private industry and are expanding their biotechnology research capabilities even more. Solano County also has a built-in workforce, with many well-paid commuters just waiting for good local jobs so they won’t have to continue driving to the Bay Area or state capital.

"But, compare Solano County with Boston, for example, and it is easy to understand why we are facing a battle for the economic future," warns Ammann. "Boston is also an attractive place to live and it too has a solid bio industry."
At the Bio 2007 trade show last month, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council spent $1.2 million to create a pavilion. To Ammann, that's cause for concern because it’s "almost twice the annual budget of economic development
expenditures in Solano County."

Strategy for the Future

He believes that Solano County’s future for economic development will depend on three things: A recognition from cities, county officials and private industry that biotech is good business. A strategic game plan to attract firms. Solano EDC, working in partnership with government and the private sector, must build on its current marketing campaign plan to create a long-term strategy to pursue biotech

Adequate funding to compete in this market. "The stakes are high, the payoffs are tremendous, and our professionals need to be armed with the best marketing tools we can afford." Ammann stresses the need for cooperation and not competition between Solano cities. "We all must recognize that if a major employer selects a city in Solano County for expansion, the entire county has the opportunity to benefit."

Genentech, for example, recently chose Dixon for its new research and development facility. "It will generate more interest in Solano County, which means a greater chance for another firm to move to the area.

"Biotech firms tend to cluster together," he notes, "to share and attract suppliers and a labor force." Solano County and its workers are ready to respond.
Rich Heintz is the senior editor at California Job Journal. Contact him at RichH@JobJournal.com.

(California Job Journal) http://www.jobjournal.com/thisweek.asp?artid=2071

Sunset, And A New Dawn

Sunset, And A New Dawn
By Richard Rico

YOU REMEMBER Pete Wilson. He's the Gov'nor who about 10 years ago beamed as he held aloft a Reporter banner headline: "GENENTECH YES!" It was about political bragging rights, a photo op that crowed the biotech giant's decision to make Vacaville the home of its new manufacturing plant.

Standing somewhere behind Pete was a smiling Frank Jackson. Gov. Wilson did a few other things too, but I can't remember.

Frank Jackson did things we can't forget: He's the Genentech genius who helped boil down possible sites-Puerto Rico, Ireland, West Sacramento, to name a few-to Vacaville. As plant general manager, he led the team that put breakthrough Genentech cancer fighters such as Herceptin, Rituxan and Avastin into production, thus into the lives of sufferers. When Gov. Arnold swaggered onto the stage of a tent theater at the local plant in 2004 to celebrate Genentech's $600 million expansion, he declared it a victory for California. In the background-again-was a smiling Frank Jackson. The Guv is a work in progress; virtually all of Jackson's Genentech career over 26 years has been a work of progress. For the Vaca plant's 13-year life, he has been here. His staff grew to nearly 1,200, in a facility valued at more than $1.5 billion. A good run. For Jackson, it ended July 11. Retirement beckoned, and the timing was right. With little fanfare (unless El Gubernator shows up to say, "Hasta la vista, baby") Jackson's life of bioscience will be redirected-to the science of fly-fishing, for instance. Or to the science of marketing his wife Susan Routledge's exquisite watercolor artwork that she creates in the dreamy environs of their new coastal home.

IN LOWER-tech times, Vacaville was a company town. Every day, white-uniformed workers trudged to "the mines"-Basic Vegetable Co. Its mission wasn't complicated: Fresh onions and garlic went in one end, a panoply of sliced, diced and dehydrated onions and garlic came out the other. What comes out the end of G'tech Vaca is just a tad complicated: The result of research at G'tech S. F. to produce pharmaceutical proteins from mammalian cells; starving cancer cells of nutrients they need to grow, thus helping to fight mankind's crappiest diseases. That last part is about all I can understand. Biotech is making Vaca a new-age company town. Its discoveries are in-your-face-counterpoints to contentions that the last thing the world needs now is more chemicals. Provable exception: When they are needed to sustain life, and they work.

"IT'S A huge science," Jackson understates. He was recruited by Genentech 26 years ago from biotech work in England. In time, he headed up the plant site search, then led the design and build team to finish the plant in 1998. Its startup was "one of the great moments of my life," he reflects. But he credits everyone else on his team for his successes, including Vacaville City Hall. "Very cooperative," are the kinds of words city councilpersons paste in scrapbooks. Genentech returned the favor. Under Jackson's watch, it favored NorthBay Hospital's new ER with $500,000. It funded $100,000 to Mission Solano, and a like amount to the Boys and Girls Club. Plus, police, fire and Opportunity House, not to mention internships for UC Davis and Solano College students, and training locals (perhaps with garlic and onion pasts) to become bioworkers. Frank Jackson's career may be sunsetting, but G'tech's dawn is barely breaking.

THERE'S A kind of parallel at Kidwell Rd. and I-80 with Rich Collins, the man who grows endive in Rio Vista. We covered him two weeks ago. What we didn't cover is his vision for creating an agri-tourism Yolo-Solano destination that would showcase the health and taste benefits of pure food: Produce, milk, cheese wine, meat, all of it in a "sustainable ag" environment. It'll be called Bridgeway Farms. Pull into a $5 million "new-age Nut Tree," whatever that is. Collins has the land, the passion, the supporters. He and wife, Shelly, are "resolute in our conviction that this is the right project in the right place, at the right time."

Picture Gov. Arnold one day holding up a banner: "BRIDGEWAY FARMS YES!"

A Collins-Jackson organic food-biotech career connection may be a stretch, but it's there: Lives dedicated to improving the human condition are lives nobly spent.

Economic Roundup Breakfast July 25

Economic Roundup Breakfast July 25
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - The Solano Economic Development Corporation will host a real estate roundup breakfast July 25.

The event will include a panel of industry experts who will discuss Solano County's current real estate activity and forecasts for the future.

Experts will discuss business and industrial parks, retail space, global real estate trends and real estate financing.

The round-up will be at Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Tickets are $25 for Solano EDC members and $35 for non-members and for people paying at the door.

For more information or to register, contact Pat Uhrich at 864-1855 or pat@solanoedc.org.

Monday, July 16, 2007

'Brand' New Vallejo

'Brand' New Vallejo
Can The Right Slogan Change The City's Fortunes?
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

How 'bout "Vallejo - The jewel of the North Bay." Or, maybe, "Vallejo - where high tech meets the tall ships."

This is the type of "branding" some in this city's business and tourism industries hope soon to develop to help attract investment in the city. That means new business, residents and visitors, said Vallejo Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Mike Browne.

The idea of city branding, which Browne said is growing in popularity nationally, is being used to create recognition.

"It's not just a tag line or slogan," he said. "It's what sets you apart from everybody else. It's defined as a consumer's strong, positive emotional tie to a product. It's an attitude - everything you do and see in a town... the signage, the atmosphere, the souvenirs, everything."

Right now, the bureau's Web site calls Vallejo "The Bay Area's #1 Gateway City," but that's a pretty tired brand, Browne said. A better, more unique one could help change the city's fortunes, he said.

"Gateway cities are a dime a dozen," Browne said. "There are many other possibilities, but we don't know what we should settle on, yet."

Funding to the tune of $20,000 to $500,000 will be needed to hire a branding firm and market the city, so the process is in the very preliminary stages, Browne said.

A city's brand can't be fantasy, said Browne and Touro University spokesperson Jim Mitchell, former head of Vallejo's Main Street and Central Core Restoration Corp. It must be based in reality, but, if properly done, can also become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, the men said.

Battle Creek, Mich., for instance, the home of cereal giant Kellogg, is capitalizing on the health aspects of the Kellogg brand, calling itself "the competitive sports capital of the Midwest," Browne said,

"Their tag line is 'Play for keeps,' " he said, adding that the city's promotion of sporting events has resulted in a growth in related industries there.

Other examples include Wisconsin Dells, Wis., which "wanted to be known as the Disneyland of the region," Browne said, selecting the tag line "the water park capital of the Midwest." And Hawthorne, Nev., a former munitions depot, now calls itself "America's Patriotic Home," he said.

"The business community has embraced it, and they now have all sorts of patriotic themed advertising everywhere," he said.

Many positive aspects of Vallejo could be accentuated for branding, the men said.

"The educational standpoint could be something, especially with what Touro is trying to do with the University Village and the high-tech medical facility," Browne said.

The ferry service is another idea, as is the city's historic and naval heritage and its waterfront, he said.

Some cities have gone so far as to alter their names, Browne said.

"Are we a waterfront town? If we get the

USS Iowa, and the Pirate Festival brings the tall ships," Browne said. "We could conceivably change the city's name to Vallejo Bay or Vallejo Harbor, and with the right tag line, a whole new identity could be created for the city."

Vallejo's identity as a Navy town was lost with the shipyard's 1996 closure, and a new one has yet to stick, Mitchell said.

But a city's brand can't be forced, he said.

"Gilroy as 'the garlic capital of the world' grew out of its annual festival, but Castroville as the artichoke capital was intentional," Mitchell said. "And there are regional brands. Silicon Valley is a regional brand, and Solano County is working on that."

And once a Vallejo brand is agreed on, its citizens would have to buy in for the process to be effective, Mitchell said.

"Once you come up with something, you have to sell it, get the people to believe it and repeat it, so it sticks," he said.

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.

Planners Set For Vote On Subdivision

Planners Set For Vote On Subdivision
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

The Vacaville City Council unanimously supported a subdivision project on California Drive last week, but another approval for the project remains and could be granted Tuesday.

Like the council, the Planning Commission backed the Montessa Subdivision that is to be built at 1222 California Drive, opposite Araquipa Court. However, the commission asked that the house plans come before them for separate approval, and that item is on its agenda for Tuesday night.

Although the entire site is about 40 acres, the 58-lot subdivision is set to be built on 17 acres while 23 acres will be designated hillside open space. The lots will range in size from 6,500 square feet to 21,125 square feet, averaging 8,500 square feet.

As part of the project, developer Pavilion Communities has agreed to complete improvements along California Drive.

On June 5, the commission sent the project to the city council with its recommendation, but they had some reservations about the house plans.

These concerns had to do with the elevations -- front, side, and rear views - of the homes, since the rear and sides will be visible from adjacent neighborhoods and parks.

Since the commission last saw the plans, Pavilion Project Manager Eric Peterson said, "We worked to enhance the rear and side elevations and make them as strong as the front so the home from all sides is pleasing."

The plans were modified to include features such as gable roofs and window shutters on the rear and sides.

Four house plans are proposed for Montessa, ranging from 2,065 square feet to 3,562 square feet. Of the 58 lots, there are 24 one-story homes and 34 two-story homes.

The plans feature three-four or five-bedroom homes with two or three bathrooms. Some plans have amenities like game rooms and three-car garages.

In their report to the commission, staff noted that "the overall number and style variation is intended to create a sufficient and attractive mix of architectural styles and building masses within the neighborhood."

Although another item, concerning the proposed Portofino Subdivision Unit 2, was scheduled for planning commission review Tuesday, staff is recommending continuing that item to a future meeting. The planning commission meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in City Hall council chambers.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at vacaville@thereporter.com.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Subdivision Plan Moves Forward

Subdivision Plan Moves Forward

With a Vacaville City Council decision Tuesday night, a 58-lot subdivision along the south side of California Drive can move forward.

By a unanimous vote, the council supplied the needed approvals for the Montessa subdivision of single-family homes. The lots range in size from 6,500 square feet to 21,125 square feet, and the house plans reflect a mix of one- and two-story models.

The plan also features a new looped street off California Drive and includes a separate access road, also off California Drive. As part of the project, 23 acres will be dedicated to the city as hillside open space and a 7,600 square-foot parcel will be set aside for expansion of a baseball field in Keating Park.

The developer, Pavilion Communities, has also agreed to complete widening and improvement of California Drive, including a portion of the street along Keating Park.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Genentech's Revenues Top $3 Billion

Genentech's Revenues Top $3 Billion
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

Genentech Inc. reported a 41 percent increase in profits during the second quarter of this year, and saw its revenues reach $3 billion for the first time, the company said Wednesday.

The biotech giant, which operates a drug manufacturing facility in Vacaville, announced it earned $747 million - or 70 cents per share - during the second quarter of 2007, up from $531 million - or 49 cents per share in the second quarter of last year.

"We're pleased with the progress we have made across the business," said Arthur Levinson, Genentech's CEO.

The increase in revenue was attributed in part to Genentech's drug Avastin, used to treat several types of cancer, which saw a 33 percent increase in U.S. sales.

Genentech's drug Rituxan, used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, saw an 11 percent increase in sales, while the breast cancer drug Herceptin saw a 3 percent increase.

The asthma drug Xolair saw a 14 percent increase. Last week, the FDA finalized a "black box" label for Xolair, warning about a potential allergic reaction.

Genentech, based in South San Francisco, said the expansion of its Vacaville facility has "achieved mechanical completion" and will begin phases of commissioning and qualification this month. It's expected to be licensed by the FDA in 2009.

Genentech also announced that it initiated 10 clinical trials in the second quarter of 2007, including studies of Lucentis, used to treat a type of macular degeneration, and Avastin. Genentech also submitted two supplemental Biologics License Applications to the FDA for Herceptin.

In April, Genentech also announced that its manufacturing facility in Oceanside was licensed by the FDA for the production of bulk Avastin drug product.

Genentech's stock rose $1.08 to close at $75.93 in regular trading Wednesday, but fell by 11 cents in after-hours trading. For the full year, the company said it expects earnings per share, excluding costs and charges, to range from $2.85 to $2.95. Analysts expect earnings of $2.91 per share.

Shelly Meron can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Study: California to hit 60 million people by 2050

Study: State to hit 60 million people by 2050
Sacramento Business Journal - 8:59 AM PDT Tuesday, July 10, 2007
California's population will rise to 60 million by 2050 from 36 million today, and by 2042 Hispanics will be in the majority, according to a state report released Monday.

Hispanics will make up 52 percent of the state population by mid-century, the state Department of Finance forecast. Whites will comprise 26 percent, Asians 13 percent, blacks 5 percent and multiracial residents 2 percent.

In Sacramento County, the population is expected to be 2.2 million in 2050 from 1.2 million today. Yolo County is expected to grow from 170,000 to 328,000; El Dorado County from 159,000 to 314,000; and Placer County from 252,000 to 751,000 by 2050.

Southern California is expected to have the highest rates of growth. Los Angeles County is expected to have more than 13 million, an increase of 3.5 million people by 2050.

San Jose Business Journal

Hardwood Business Hits The Floor Running

Hardwood Business Hits The Floor Running
By Ines Bebea

FAIRFIELD - Paul Yau had one goal in mind when he relocated his business from Napa to Solano Business Park in Fairfield. He wanted to take over the world . . . of premium hardwood flooring.

The owner of Gentry Hardwood Floors wanted a location that would position him in the gateway to Northern California and the rest of the country. He has been in business for four years and has not looked back since moving to Fairfield in 2005.

Yau manufactures premium hardwood flooring and distributes to retailers, developers, contractors and architects.

"Right now, we sell directly to 100 retailers in Northern California from Reno to Redding and Carmel," said Yau, who runs his business in a 12,000-square-foot facility. "I moved from Napa because I wanted a location that would give me direct access to Northern California, with transportation corridors to supply customers in all directions."

His strategy to make his flooring a hot commodity is already in place. Yau recently attended the Pacific Coast Builders Conference in San Francisco and the Surfaces Trade Show in Las Vegas to keep abreast of what's new in the home designing market.

"By attending trade shows I see firsthand the new developments and designs for homes and what the retailers are looking for," said Yau. "Hardwood floors are very attractive, and they help homes sell faster."

A career in the hardwood flooring was not Yau's lifelong dream. Yau, who earned a mechanical engineering degree from UC Berkeley stumbled into hardwood floors from personal experience. He wanted to replace the carpet in his Napa home with hardwood but was surprised at the cost.

"I really had no idea that hardwood floors were that expensive," he said. "So I looked into how the entire process was done and got into business myself."

Yau buys wood from Russia. It is shipped to China, where it is manufactured.

"Business has been really good," said Yau. "Now I'm looking for a bigger facility in Fairfield."

Finding suitable land will not be a problem for Yau. According to a land survey from the city's Economic Development Division, Fairfield has available land for industrial development and office space. Fairfield has averaged 400,000 square feet of new industrial development and 282,000 square feet of commercial and office development per year since 1990.

The city has permitted more than 7 million square feet of retail, office and industrial development since 1995.

"We have a lot of business parks that cater to different types of businesses, said Curt Johnston, assistant director of the Economic Development Division. "We actively recruit to brand the city as the next premium location for industrial and office development in the Bay Area."

Fairfield has attracted companies from Alameda and Contra Costa counties, said Johnston, who believes the market is ripe for businesses from San Jose, Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties that want to relocate and expand.

"Calbee America has a new facility in Fairfield, and Guittard Chocolates is beginning work on their production line," Johnston said. "We have land that is available for immediate development, as well as the infrastructure to support it.

"We are good at attracting firms who like the central location of Fairfield, with the proximity to the Bay Area counties and Sacramento."

Tim Ridosh, marketing director for the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce, is not surprised that business owners are choosing to headquarter their businesses here.

"The perfect example is Copart, Inc. in Green Valley," Ridosh said. "They are an international company who will be celebrating 25 years, and they can do everything from Fairfield.

"All the development will come this way. Our land is cheaper, and we have a lot of it waiting to be developed. Our transportation corridors can lead you all the way to the East Coast, while our ports can take your products West."

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or ibebea@dailyrepublic.net.

Just What The Doctor Ordered

Just What The Doctor Ordered
Cancer Research Center Should Give Vallejo's Economy A Boost
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

A patient table and imaging system sits in the Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Center in Heidelberg, Germany. A similar setup is being planned by Touro University for a particle therapy center in Vallejo. (Courtesy photo)

Touro University officials announced a plan Thursday to develop a particle therapy center at the Vallejo campus, which will feature the latest in cancer treatment and research and is expected to boost Vallejo's economic development.

Touro University officials and others involved with the project believe the center, which will include state-of-the-art equipment from Siemens Medical Solutions, will lead to the growth of the University and the bio-medical industry in Solano County.

"It will accelerate our growth and, more importantly, it brings in contributing industries," said Dick Hassel, vice president of administration at Touro University's Vallejo campus. "The biotech corridor is really going to thrive from this technology because it's really seen as the future of medicine."

The $330 million particle beam treatment center will feature therapies currently only being offered in Germany and Japan. Dr. Michael Clearfield, dean of the College of Osteo- pathic Medicine at Touro University, said the new technology is the next step in cancer treatment, particularly what's known as proton therapy.

The particle beam center will allow doctors "to treat tumors that, to date, are untreatable" with traditional radiation therapy, Clearfield said.

He added that the new technology can better focus on tumors and would cause less damage to surrounding tissue. It also has the potential to treat cancer with less therapy sessions, allowing patients to return to their normal lives faster and with less side effects.

The center will consist of a 125,000 square-foot building, constructed as a green facility. It is scheduled to open in 2010 at the corner of G Street and Azuar Avenue in Vallejo.

The announcement comes after almost a year of negotiations between the university and the city of Vallejo.

Vallejo City Manager Joe Tanner said the project will jump-start the city's economy.

"I would expect the economic development of Vallejo to boom once this project is up," Tanner said. "We needed something to kick-start it, and this is the thing that will kick-start it."

Mike Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, said all of Solano County will benefit from the new center.

"This really solidifies for Solano (County) that we have the ability not only to manufacture, but to research, in the bio-science area," he said.

Touro University is already discussing possible partnerships with other research universities and institutions, according to Hassel, who would not go into details.

All who are involved in the project say it is an exciting, new chapter for Vallejo, Touro University, and medicine as a whole.

"The new knowledge that's going to come from this technology is really opening up a new chapter in medicine," said Clearfield. "It's exciting for us just to be participating in something like this."

Shelly Meron can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

On Their Guard

On Their Guard
Rio Vista Firm On Cutting Edge Of Technology In Freeway Barriers
By Shelly Meron/Business Writer

Jeff Shewmaker, marketing manager for Rio Vista-based Barrier Systems Inc., stands next to the BarrierGuard 800, a steel safety barrier system. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)

With so much freeway congestion, it's only fitting that a company making some of the latest technology in freeway barriers is located in Solano County. Rio Vista-based Barrier Systems Inc. came to the area in 1991, and today produces several guard rail products, including a light-weight steel barrier and a moveable concrete barrier that can be used to re-direct traffic during high congestion.

The company's BarrierGuard 800 is a steel barrier that was recently used on I-5 near Redding to replace a small section of freeway barrier that was often hit by motorists. Barrier Systems Inc.'s chief operating officer, Chris Sanders, said the product provides an exciting alternative to freeway and bridge contractors.

"It's lightweight, so it's easy to transport," Sanders said. "And the life expectancy of steel barriers is much longer than that of a concrete barrier that's being moved" because concrete barriers break easily in transport.

Sanders said traditional concrete barriers weigh about 6,000 lbs., compared with 1,200 lbs. for a steel barrier of the same length. He also said a truck could hold 600 linear ft. of the steel barriers, compared with only 100 linear ft. of the traditional type.

"If you're trying to deliver some to a job site, you can drive one-sixth of the trucks," he explained.

The barriers are also quicker to assemble, using only one bolt with a crew of three capable of assembling up to 1,000 ft. of the barrier per hour, according to the company's Web site.

It can also be safer in certain circumstances, causing less damage to a car or to the barrier itself in the event of impact during a crash.

"They have a lower deflection," he said. "These barriers are very high performing barriers."

Although the upfront costs of installing the steel barriers is about three times more expensive than traditional concrete barriers - mostly because of the high cost of steel - Sanders said the costs are offset in the long-run.

"Yes, it costs more today, but it lasts much longer," he explained, adding that companies will also save fuel in transport because the barriers are lighter. "It is, upfront, a more expensive product. But over the life of the product, it is similar or better (in cost)."

The BarrierGuard 800 is widely used in Europe, but has also been used in projects in Georgia, Minnesota, New Jersey and South America. Sanders said about 150 miles of this technology have been used all over the world.

One of Barrier Systems Inc.'s other products is a moveable concrete barrier that can be used to close off certain areas on construction sites, as well as to direct traffic.

The barriers are lighter, so they can be easily moved several times a day at a work site if necessary. Traditional temporary barriers at some projects aren't moved for weeks, or even months, because they are so heavy and would take more time and money to move.

Even more exciting, says Sanders, is how the moveable barriers are being used to off-set traffic congestion. He cites the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in southern California as an example, where the barriers are moved depending on the time of day and what direction heavy traffic is headed.

"What the (barrier) system allows you to do is manage traffic congestion," he said. "We can create extra lanes in peak traffic direction, then reverse it in the afternoon for the afternoon commute. If there's unused capacity on one side, we can use those lanes."

It would seem California would be quick to install these barriers in other, heavily-congested areas. But it turns out the state is a bit behind in implementing the new technology.

"Other states have adopted it far more readily than we have," Sanders said. "It just hasn't been used (in California) as much. You're working with engineers and state governments. It's a slow process."

Sanders said there are future plans to implement the moveable barriers on the Golden Gate Bridge, but he did not have a specific timeline for that project.

He was optimistic, however, about the future of the barriers in California, and around the country.

"There are a lot of bridges that have to get fixed in the U.S.," he said. "We believe that it will be used in a lot of bridge repair projects around the country.

"I think it will (change)," he said of the slow move toward the new barriers. "We're making progress."

Gerrit Dyke, senior engineer with Rio Vista-based Barrier Systems Inc., pulls up a rendering of a crash cushion design. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)

Shelly Meron can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive