Friday, February 29, 2008

Dixon Sees Good Signs On Horizon

Dixon Sees Good Signs On Horizon
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer
Article Launched: 02/29/2008

From Pepper the sheep, to a racetrack proposal, to a Mediterranean fruit fly invasion, to the opening of a new high school, Dixon has been through interesting times recently.

"We rode a wave of optimism during a time of an unsteady economy," said Mayor Mary Ann Courville Thursday during her annual "State of the City" address.

• Pepper the sheep caught worldwide attention when a neighbor complained about her living in a residential back yard, however the sheep was allowed to stay.

• Dixon voters were able to voice their opposition to a proposed horse racetrack.

• Unwanted visitors arrived late last year in the form of Mediterranean fruit flies, forcing a quarantine that could be lifted this spring.

• A deteriorating high school on East A Street finally was replaced with a brand new high school just outside of downtown.

The city has had some major ups and downs, but there are bright spots on the horizon, the mayor said.

Courville highlighted that Genentech will be building a research facility in Dixon, a $75 million project. Dixon is also inching closer to having a train stop in the city and recently received a $1.33 million grant to improve its railroad tracks and pedestrian platform.

One downside is that the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has fined the city $220,000 for noncompliance of a Cease and Desist Order. The city is in the process of appealing that fine.

There was also a tragic homicide that shook the city.

Police Chief Don Mort, however, reassured residents that Dixon is still a safe city. Christina Baxley, 41, was gunned down in November just outside the apartment complex where she lived.

Mort said Baxley's murder was the sixth in the city in 17 years.

"We're not immune to crime," he said. "We are still a safe community."

This year, Mort has challenged, teachers, parents, students and the rest of the community to help the city have an incident-free prom night.

In the near future, residents will be receiving blue collection bins for Dixon's first curbside recycling service. The city will also celebrate the 95th anniversary of public library service. District Librarian Gregg Atkins said he continues to explore options of moving the library to a newer and more spacious facility.

Meanwhile, Dixon is still sitting pretty good financially and is economically outperforming other cities in the state and locally outperforming the trends, according to Economic Development Director Mark Heckey. And, the city is still looking into ways it can develop its Northeast Quadrant to bring in more revenue for the city, he said.

Courville reassured the city that financially the city is doing OK, but that staff is proceeding with caution.

"The city is never completely safe," she said. "But know the City Council is always committed to serving the community. To have the quality of life here that we love and enjoy, our strength lies in our unity to make Dixon the best it can be."

Melissa Murphy can be reached at

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