Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Construction for Dixon's new high school will begin within the coming weeks

Article Launched: 08/31/2005 06:32:31 AM

Indirectly, high school project begins

By David Henson/Staff Writer

Construction for Dixon's new high school will begin within the coming weeks - indirectly at least.

While the Dixon Unified School District has yet to turn its first shovel of soil, work on adjacent properties, which are tied to the new school, has started.

The city has been excavating an adjacent draining pond and piling the excess dirt on the new school site.

That dirt will be used by Brookfield Homes for the site-grading the Danville-based company has promised to provide to the district free-of-charge.

"Indirectly, when Brookfield starts grading the property, the high school project begins," said Ed Eusebio, the school district's director of facilities.

Eusebio will update Dixon trustees on the progress and timeline of the high school's construction Thursday night.

"This is a good news piece. The timeline hasn't changed," said Superintendent Wally Holbrook, noting that construction plans are on schedule.

In addition, trustees will go over a list of "alternative deductibles," or a potential list of items that can be deleted, delayed or substituted to keep the project within budget.

After receiving site-approval from the state last week, the district is finishing up its design and construction plans for the school to send to the state for consideration next week, Holbrook said.

Bidding for the project, which includes a pre-qualification process, is expected to be completed by November with ground-breaking to follow shortly after.

In other business, trustees will discuss reorganizing its district office to create new space for two new administrative positions and look at the possibility of procuring an improved, more professional dais from which to conduct business.

The search process for finding a replacement for Superintendent Holbrook, who will step down in January, is set for more discussion as well.

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. at the district office at 180 S. First Street.

David Henson can be reached at

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

City of Vallejo could build garage to aid downtown renewal

August 30, 2005

Plans for parking in question
City could build garage to aid downtown renewal

By CHRIS G. DENINA, Times-Herald staff writer

A developer proposes to turn several downtown Vallejo parking lots into condominiums, shops and restaurants to revitalize the area. The question is, where will everyone park?

The answer lies in a 600-space parking garage the city would build in the heart of Triad Communities Inc.'s proposed project zone covering a dozen square blocks. On Monday, city staff and consultants discussed parking plans with residents, landlords and business owners in a meeting at JFK Library.

If the council OKs plans for the development project, work on parking could begin as early as next year, said John Bunch, the city's development services director. The garage, which downtown property owners would pay for through a special tax district, could take a year-and-a-half to build and is slated for a site at Marin and York streets.

"We always knew the parking was going to be the big gorilla in this project," Bunch told the audience of more than 30.

Plans call for creating angled parking. Sidewalks would be dressed up with decorative street lamps, benches and flower planters. Street corners would extend into the intersection to shorten the distance for people crossing the road.

The idea is to make a more pedestrian-friendly downtown, said Paul Barber, a consultant whose firm worked on creating the downtown plan.

"Park and walk everywhere, that's the approach," Barber said.

During development some avenues may temporarily be turned into one-way streets to accommodate angled parking on both sides. And customers used to parking next to a business may have to park farther away.

Shoppers who have to walk more may stay away, said David Fischer of Martinez, who owns several downtown properties.

"That's my biggest fear," Fischer said.

His tenants, Debbie Rojas and her husband Dan, recently opened the Georgia Street Grill restaurant. Rojas said she worries about losing business and even closing.

"The interim is the scary part," Rojas said.

Right now, more than an estimated 550 parking spaces sit empty during the day in downtown, according to a study. After the new parking garage is built and the downtown is developed, downtown should still have more than 130 surplus spaces.

Still, some are excited about the downtown being transformed into a regional attraction that includes a performing arts theater, thousands of new residents and more restaurants and stores.

"I think it will be good in the future," said Laura Wong, who owns the China Cafe on Georgia Street. But, she added, "I worry about the parking right now."

The downtown project area is roughly bordered by Sonoma Boulevard and Santa Clara Street to the east and west, and by Capitol and Maine streets to the north and south.

"Starting and Managing a Small Business" workshop on Sept. 8 in Vacaville

The Solano Community College Small Business Development Center is presenting a "Starting and Managing a Small Business" workshop on Sept. 8 in Vacaville.

New business owners can learn about market research, legal structures, business planning, licenses, permits and fictitious business names. The workshop is scheduled to run from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce office, 300 Main Street. The cost is $20.

On Sept. 10, the center will host a workshop on creating business plans from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the center's offices in Fairfield at 424-C Executive Court North. The cost is $45 per person.

Get more information or reserve a seat for both programs by calling 864-3382 or registering online at

The Fairfield brewery will produce the special packaging for the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks

Anheuser-Busch to start special NFL team packaging

- Anheuser-Busch, Inc. the "official beer sponsor" of 28 National Football League teams, will soon introduce team-specific packaging on its cans of Budweiser and Bud Light, officials said.

All 12 Anheuser-Busch domestic breweries will be involved in the team specific packaging campaign, which will produce more than 78 different packaging combinations on 12 million cases of Budweiser and Bud Light aluminum cans.

The Fairfield brewery will produce the special packaging for the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks, according to Kelli Hauser, a company spokeswoman.

PG&E to buy buy up to 75 megawatts of wind energy from PPM Energy's Shiloh I Wind Project in the Montezuma Hills between Suisun City and Rio Vista

Article Last Updated: Monday, Aug 29, 2005 - 11:36:22 pm PDT

PG&E to buy locally-produced wind power

By Jeff Mitchell

-The San Francisco-based California Public Utilities Commission recently gave Pacific Gas & Electric permission to buy up to 75 megawatts of wind energy from PPM Energy's Shiloh I Wind Project in the Montezuma Hills between Suisun City and Rio Vista.

"Clean, renewable wind power is a key element in PG&E's plan to provide reliable, environmentally responsible energy for California," said Fong Wan, vice president of power contracts and electric resources development.

"These new wind energy resources approved today will supply enough power to serve more than 50,000 of our customers," Wan added.

With this agreement, PG&E has met its annual goal of increasing its renewable purchases by a minimum of 1 percent of retail electricity load. The utility currently supplies 31 percent of its customer load from renewable resources with 18 percent from its large hydroelectric facilities and 13 percent from small hydro and other renewable resources.

In total, nearly 50 percent of PG&E's retail electricity load is served from generating resources that have no emissions that contribute to global warming.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Vacaville's Nut Tree's future: 'Dream big' for big memories

Article Launched: 08/28/2005 07:59:20 AM

Nut Tree's future: 'Dream big' for big memories

By Steve Huddleston

Most of us awoke Friday morning with a recollection of something the day before that seemed like a dream. Reading the front-page headline, "Nut Tree's new era begins," prodded some to pinch themselves to make sure it was real.

Yes, it was. Ceremonial golden shovels, the hard hats, mini-crates of peaches, lemonade and red-checkered tablecloths. Most imaginative were the architect's renderings of what might spring from the soil in the next 12 months on land that for the last 10 years has pretty much gone to seed.

And there was Ali Snell's portrayal of Helen Harbison Power. It was Mrs. Power, along with husband Edward, best known by his nickname "Bunny," who started it all selling figs on the roadside back in 1921. Ali gave a living history lesson to those who attended.

"A new tree grows in Vacaville," promised the invitation to the ground-breaking festivities at midday Thursday. "When completed, the project will feature 360,000 square feet of offices, seven acres of parks, including a bocce grove and a family amusement park with rides, games, activities and, of course, the famous Nut Tree Railroad."

Why should we believe that the latest permutation will succeed?

First and foremost, the passion for the project is evident in each of the project's key players, beginning with Ali's dad, Roger. That's not been seen in the impostors who came before him.

The new godfather of the Nut Tree wants to create a new landmark for Vacaville and for California. It must be, he said, "a community within a community, where people can live, work, shop, dine and play."

His mission, he said, is rooted in history. His vision is a "special gathering place, a bright spot along the highway that is as much a playground for adults as it is for children." He added, "Our hope is that the positive energy that will flow from this exciting project will create heartfelt memories for millions of future Nut Tree visitors."

But one would expect the primary developer to be nothing but ebullient about his project. But his zeal has cascaded over the rest of those who have become believers in the new Nut Tree. Even the money guys.

Bob Gray is Rockwood Capital Corp.'s point man on the project. His firm is a privately held real estate investment company known for choosing first-rate ventures. Even he had a Nut Tree story from his earlier days and during the course of analyzing this deal he became one with the vision.

He called it a "special" deal.

Rick Capretta, whose Westrust Ventures will build the retail shops, restaurants and core portions of the new Nut Tree, was inspired two years ago when he began discussing with Roger Snell what this thing was all about. "You walked out of that meeting with Roger and you said, 'Wow, he's really optimistic about the Nut Tree,"' said Capretta, who has become a disciple. "Two years later, and people are saying that about me."

Of course, the dream described by Roger Snell is embraced by thousands of those of us who grew up with the original Nut Tree. After riding the train ourselves as children, we brought our children there to ride for the first time. And we put them on the hobby horses and snapped more photographs than we really needed.

Perhaps this is unfair to have such high expectations and place so much pressure on Snell & Co. But if anyone can make this dream come true after so long a wait, the man who said "we like to dream big" seems like the man who can do it.

The author is publisher of The Reporter. E-mail:

Vacaville's Nut Tree's future sparkles with mix of new and old

Article Launched: 08/28/2005 07:59:15 AM

True Renewal
Nut Tree's future sparkles with mix of new and old

The vision is a new landmark, a new Nut Tree. And unlike past figments, this one looks, tastes and feels real.

On Thursday, more than 250 folks listened to the speeches, watched the ceremonial golden shovels turn rich Vacaville soil and tasted some of the vestiges of the fabled Nut Tree, once the roadside landmark that put Vacaville on the map.

Developers, financiers, politicians, city officials, and nostalgic Vacaville residents and former residents - including some from the Power family that once reigned over the Nut Tree associates - saw firsthand what Mayor Len Augustine called the "future of Vacaville."

And as the mayor said, the $200 million project will make all other redevelopment programs in Vacaville pale in comparison.

A long, arduous - and at times contentious - expedition has brought the private and public sectors together to launch a rebirth on the city's pre-eminent piece of real estate along Interstate 80.

If it finishes as planned, it will be a testament to the true mission of redevelopment. It will create jobs, commerce, entertainment and a multitude of public benefits - revenue to hire police officers, fix roads, maintain parks and much more.

Perhaps just as important, it will re-establish a reputation. Vacaville once again will be the place along Interstate 80 between the Golden Gate and the shores of Lake Tahoe for travelers to pause and enjoy.

An open-air pavilion set aside bocce ball courts will complement a family amusement park with roller coaster and the legendary Nut Tree miniature train. Nearby will be a 380,000-square-foot retail and restaurant hub. The look and feel of it all, if it finishes as planned, will be like nothing else between San Francisco Bay and Emerald Bay.

A hint of skepticism is understandable, given the number of false starts experienced since the family-owned Nut Tree closed in 1996. In the past decade, the pretenders have come and gone. Hope has swelled and then collapsed as all the talk failed to muster a genuine revitalization plan.

The team in place today is different, to be sure. Snell & Co., Westrust Ventures and Rockwood Capital Corp. comprise a solid catalyst with a shared vision of what is to come.

Every bit as critical is a City Council - past and present - and a city management group committed to making the project success, but not without quality control and protection of the taxpayers' financial and social interests.

There were plenty roadblocks and hurdles that had to be cleared before the shovels turned the dirt Thursday not far from where cherub-faced kids would lick pumpkin ice cream atop a sugar cone. City leaders are to be commended. Former Mayor David Fleming and current Mayor Augustine led councils with bold, resolute members who stood up to the naysayers and the wags who criticized the partnership. Because without the city's determination there was no way to ensure the next Nut Tree would be more than the mundane freeway fare.

The disposition of Nut Tree Retail LLC is a healthy one - for the investors and for the city of Vacaville.

City management remains a partner, but also an overseer. It will be facilitator, but also enforcer of the high standards promised.

Late next year, Roger Snell says he will revel when he presides over the ribbon cutting of the first phase of the project, for the new Nut Tree will mix the best of the old with the exciting possibilities of the future.

If it finishes as planned, so will we.

Vacaville's The Nut Tree reborn

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Aug 27, 2005 - 11:13:18 pm PDT

The Nut Tree reborn

By Daily Republic staff

Talk to anyone older than 25 who has spent any of their life in Northern California and he or she probably will have a memory of the Nut Tree in Vacaville.

For some old-timers, it might have been a stop at the fruit stand along the old highway. It might have been a ride on the Nut Tree train or a stop between the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe for dinner at the end of a ski trip. It might have been a fly-in to the Nut Tree Airport with friends for a Sunday brunch at the popular restaurant.

The famous landmark along Interstate 80 closed in 1996 after decades of operation. Starting as a fruit stand in the 1920s, it grew in size and stature over the years, adding the restaurant, gift shop, a train ride and a host of other family activities that lured travelers off old U.S. Highway 40 and then Interstate 80.

When the Nut Tree closed nearly a decade ago and was bulldozed a few years later, it appeared a piece of Solano County history may be gone and soon forgotten. It became a bit of an eyesore along the highway and a nightmare for property managers who had to chase away vagrants and the homeless.

But a lot of hard work and dedication by citizens of Vacaville, their government and some passionate business people will make sure the Nut Tree has another life, a prosperous one at that.

A couple of hundred people gathered at the 80-acre site in high spirits this week as ground was broken on a new Nut Tree Village, a venture that will resurrect a bit of the flavor of the original Nut Tree, but add some embellishments developers believe will make it a showcase for retail development in Northern California.

The first phase of the new village will include an investment of $200 million, enough to provide a retail and office project and an entertainment venue - called the Nut Tree Family Park. Returning will be the original Nut Tree train ride, but also other amusement rides geared for the family.

Another phase is expected to include a hotel and conference center.

Vacaville and the descendants of Bunny and Helen Powers, founders of the original Nut Tree, have reason to celebrate. The Nut Tree lives.

Fairfield to study older motels occupying city

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Aug 27, 2005 - 11:12:14 pm PDT

Fairfield to study older motels occupying city

Frequent readers may recall our recent column on the market for new motel and hotel construction. Projects in the planning pipeline include: Staybridge Suites and Homewood Suites in Green Valley Corporate Park; a hotel in the proposed expansion of Fairfield Corporate Commons now under review, a new motel at the Howard Johnson's site on Lyon Road; Comfort Suites (under construction) near Central Way in Cordelia; and a new 300-room hotel at Travis Air Force Base opening in November.

With all the new motel and hotel rooms coming on line, what will happen to the older motels, particularly those concentrated along North Texas Street? Many of these older structures will have more difficulties in attracting travelers, especially given the availability of new motels and hotels right off the freeway.

As part of the "80-to-80 Corridor" revitalization efforts, staff this fall will begin a study of the older motels along West Texas and North Texas streets. The corridor contains seven facilities that were, with one exception, all built before 1980 to serve military personnel during the Vietnam War era. Some are aging and suffering from declining occupancy but others appear to be in good condition.

The study will include a survey of existing physical conditions, economic issues, and occupancy trends, as well as a review of criminal activity and health and safety code violations.

In addition to the survey of existing conditions, city staff will analyze the potential to reuse motel sites for other land uses. Over time, some of these motels may no longer be viable.

Given their location in the heart of Fairfield, it is important to work with the property owners to determine if potential new uses exist for these relatively large parcels. Some of these uses might include new housing (particularly homeownership opportunities), commercial developments such as office or retail, mixed-use projects, or even public uses.

In some cases, redevelopment of the motels may be possible for use as affordable housing. One example of the kind of project that may come out of the study is the former motel on Auto Mall Parkway. The Fairfield Redevelopment Agency's pending acquisition of the 83-room Economy Inn Express motel will assist in redeveloping an aging problem property for other commercial uses.

The city will also look at strategies and programs to assist in redeveloping or improving motel sites. For example, the city may determine a prudent option would be to provide design aid to property owners interested in exploring alternative uses of their motel sites. The city could help property owners in marketing their property for redevelopment. Loans or grants could be used for site cleanup or other pre-development activities.

There are also specialist developers interested in working with cities in the conversion or redevelopment of older motels for affordable housing purposes. As some of the motels are already used by social service groups as "last chance" housing, it may be preferable to redevelop motel units under strong management to reduce the negative impacts of residential uses on these sites.

Finally, the city has initiated an overall review of zoning ordinance regulations governing motel and hotel development. One goal for the upcoming changes will be to ensure new motel development minimizes the negatives of "planned obsolescence." The city may limit the zoning districts where motels and hotels can be developed, and the conditional use permit may ensure smaller motel sites can be more easily redeveloped or converted to other uses.

Economic Notes is an update from Fairfield City Hall written by Brian Miller and Karl Dumas of the Fairfield Planning and Development Department. They can be contacted at 428-7461 or e-mail at or

Fairfield's Papyrus rolls out greeting cards

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Aug 27, 2005 - 11:12:15 pm PDT

Papyrus rolls out greeting cards

By Christine Cubé

- When Marcel Schurman was looking to move his company Schurman Fine Papers from Emeryville, an old friend convinced him to come to Fairfield.

That friend was Herman Rowland Sr. and he owned a company called Jelly Belly.

For a time, the two companies - Schurman Fine Papers and Jelly Belly - were neighbors in Emeryville. Rowland and Schurman became friends through business, stemming from the first time Schurman vacated a building Rowland bought and moved Jelly Belly into it in the late 1960s in Emmeryville.

That's happened a couple of times and they've been friends ever since.

"(Marcel's company) has an incredible history," Rowland said. "I remember Marcel and his wife talking about how they got started. They came here and sold cards out of the trunk of their car going down the street.

"It's the American dream."

Best known today by its retail arm Papyrus, parent company Schurman Fine Papers, which moved to Fairfield in the mid-1980s, also has a wholesale division named after the founder of the company, Marcel Schurman. The entire operation employs more than 800 people nationwide, including those staffing 112 Papyrus stores across the country. Schurman Fine Papers also has a design center in San Francisco and a distribution facility in Nashville, Tenn.

Papyrus is a healthy fish swimming in the same water with big fish, such as American Greetings, Hallmark and Carlton Cards and it's doing just fine.

To Papyrus devotees, each store is a little slice of heaven, and Shawn Pauli, vice president of stores, likes to keep it that way.

"It's all about expressing oneself through paper," Pauli said. "My favorite part is we have an amazing interaction with the customer. Without that, retail is boring and it's the same experience from store to store and it's forgettable."

By year end, Papyrus plans to add three new locations nationwide. There are 32 Papyrus stores In San Francisco and throughout Northern California. The closest location to Fairfield is a store just off-campus of the University of California, Davis.

It all began in 1950.

The Marcel Schurman Company was a small operation founded by Schurman and his wife, Margrit. It wasn't fancy: The European couple (Marcel was from Switzerland, Margrit from Germany) worked out of their home, importing post cards from Europe.

"They identified an opportunity in the market to bring in product with a European flair," said Dominique Schurman, the Schurman's daughter and CEO of Schurman Fine Papers. "They sold it, shipped it and ran it out of their home."

Steady customer growth allowed the Schurmans to expand their offerings and Margrit Schurman opened the company's first Papyrus store in Berkeley in 1973.

By the early 1980s, the company began designing its own product and relied less on European sources for material. Dominique Schurman said it allowed the company to "drive its own vision and customize things to the American market."

Schurman explained the European pace and cultural differences - simple things as American Christmases typically using red and green colors versus European Christmases' more rust tones, brown and gold - began to show through.

"We recognized if we were going to meet the needs of the customer, we were going to have to develop our own product," she said, adding it started with straight-forward, color printing of cards. "It was not nearly as ornate and sophisticated as today's offering. The consumer's tastes and expectations have also evolved over the years and they're looking for uniqueness and quality - that extraordinary product."

She's referring to the popular handmade cards at Papyrus. Each piece is a work of art, requiring a steady hand and the expert use of tweezers. The execution and quality, from materials to presentation, make each card special, Schurman said, mentioning cards mostly are handmade in India and China.

"It takes 18 to 25 steps per card to create a handmade card, so the finished product is a gift in itself," Pauli said, adding that 45 percent of Papyrus cards are the handmade, high-end type.

Selling cards makes up about 40 percent of the Papyrus business. Cards range in price from $2.95 to $9. A new card line debuting in November will retail as high as $19 per greeting.

Papyrus' custom printing for parties, wedding invitations or baby announcements takes up 16.5 percent of the business. What's left: Stationary, gifts, wrap and trim.

In early 2006, Schurman Fine Papers will undergo a landmark change when its two divisions will come under its top Papyrus brand.

Before then, Rowland expects to have his yearly lunch with Marcel Schurman, who is the board chairman of Schurman Fine Papers. It takes place the same time every year: December, just before Christmas.

"It just became something that was very special to us," said Rowland, CEO of Jelly Belly. "We would get together and have lunch at Trader Vic's in Emeryville. We still do that today even though he's retired."

Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or

Fairfield's next big housing project on the way - Lewis Planned Communities to build 2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Aug 27, 2005 - 11:10:24 pm PDT

Fairfield's next big housing project on the way

By Barry Eberling

- Lewis Planned Communities is trying to build 2,327 homes and apartments on 434 acres while avoiding a rare flower and meeting city demands for a pedestrian friendly community.

The company's vision for the Villages at Fairfield will soon get a big test, most likely on Sept. 20. That's the tentative date for the City Council to pass judgment on proposals for the land near Clay Bank and Cement Hill roads.

Council members have made it clear this project is important. It's one of the biggest developments remaining within Fairfield's voter-approved growth boundaries, one that could take 10 to 15 years to build.

The project comes with the endorsement of the city Planning Commission. The commission on Aug. 17 reviewed the Villages at Fairfield plans and environmental studies.

"We hope and expect it to be a great project," Commissioner Gurpreet Dhugga said.

"Thanks for investing in Fairfield," Commissioner Charles Wood told Lewis officials.

Commissioners had concerns along the way. For example, they worried how all the added homes would effect traffic on such major city roads as Air Base Parkway, Peabody Road, Clay Bank Road and Manuel Campos Parkway.

Lewis in a development agreement with the city would be obligated to improve these roads. It would have to make certain improvements when it builds a certain number of homes.

Commissioner Thomas Mattis at earlier meetings had many questions about traffic. But the proposed agreement between Lewis Homes and the city satisfied him.

"Pretty much all of the traffic has been taken care of," Mattis said.

The proposed development agreement contains other features. Among them:

n A Mello-Roos district would impose a $542 annual tax on Villages homeowners. This would at build-out raise $1.16 million annually for citywide police services and park maintenance within the Villages.

n The Homecomings apartments proposed near Clay Bank Road would provide 130 residences at affordable rents for Travis Air Force Base personnel. That would be done for at least 55 years.

n Lewis would build a 2,400-square-foot neighborhood center next to a planned elementary school.

n Lewis would build parks and trails before certain deadlines. That includes a section of the Linear Park along an abandoned railroad right-of-way between Clay Bank and Peabody roads.

n Lewis would pay $500 per house for community improvements, such as a teen center. This fee could bring the city $1 million.

Several commissioners said the development agreement helped convince them to endorse the project.

"That sealed the deal," Mattis said.

One challenge for Lewis is building in an area with vernal pool wetlands and the rare Contra Costa goldfield flower. The developer will preserve several wetland areas, including 9 acres for the flower.

"Do we have the right or capability to throw seed out and grow more Contra Costa goldfields?" Mattis asked. "At some point, it's going to go through tough times. There's going to be dry years."

The more flowers, the greater chance they will survive, he said.

Fairfield would not be involved in such an effort, city planner Erin Beavers said. But other agencies and groups could look at how to manage land for the goldfields, he said.

William Mellerup of Lewis Planned Communities sketched out a vision for the Villages.

"Our land plan emphasizes open space, parks, pedestrian pathways and the Linear Park system," he said.

Each neighborhood will have its own sense of place, he said. The Villages will do such things as preserve the concrete kilns from Cement, a historic, long-vanished town and cement operation that once stood in the area.

He convinced the Planning Commission. Now he must convince the City Council.

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

Business owners get chance to buy offices

Article Last Updated: Friday, Aug 26, 2005 - 11:00:28 pm PDT

Workers with Lusardi Construction are busy building the Venture Commerce Center off Mangels Boulevard in Fairfield. (Photo by Gary Goldsmith)

Business owners get chance to buy offices

By Jeff Mitchell

FAIRFIELD - Lourdes R. Gaerlan is a hard-working dentist.

She has spent countless hours over the last 10 years developing her Suisun City-based practice and has been faithfully paying out $5,000 a month for the lease on her office at 100 Sunset Center.

Now, thanks to what real estate market observers say is a small but growing trend, Gaerlan will soon move into a new office in Green Valley. Only this time the checks she writes won't be rent payments to her landlord. They'll be mortgage payments.

"I'm very excited. This is a great opportunity and a great investment," said Gaerlan, 45. "Being able to own my office is a dream come true."

Gaerlan is expected to be one of 28 owners who will move into a unique four-building office development dubbed the Ventura Commerce Center on Mangels Boulevard in the Green Valley area of Fairfield.

The development allows small business owners a chance to purchase condominium-like office spaces ranging from 1,441 to 3,319 square feet, said Robert Eves, president of Marin-based Venture Corp., the company developing the site.

"We meet business owners who are thrilled with the opportunity to own their properties. They want to control their own destinies, and are tired of making their landlords rich," the 57-year-old Eves said in a recent interview.

In addition to building equity, the new property owners get the advantage of property appreciation and the tax benefits of owning versus renting.

The company's first commerce center was built in 2002 in Silicon Valley's Morgan Hill Ranch area. Since then, the company has 30 of the centers under way across the state at a value of more than $600 million, Eves said.

The properties include a

2-story office on their front side and a so-called "flex area" in the rear with a 21-foot high ceiling.

The buildings are constructed of steel-reinforced raised concrete panels. Each is fully carpeted and equipped with a panelized ceiling system with integrated parabolic lighting and heating and air conditioning systems. The second floors offer views and are designed for business offices, conference areas, laboratories, storage or other uses.

All properties have private restrooms and pre-installed plumbing for kitchenettes, which can include cabinets, stainless steel sinks, microwave ovens and under-counter refrigerators.

The Fairfield site is already about 60 percent sold out and is scheduled for occupancy some time in February 2006, Eves said.

Reach Jeff Mitchell at 427-6977 or

Commercial condos?

Who: Venture Commerce Center, Fairfield

What: A project boasting a new idea in commercial office space has broken ground in Fairfield. Instead of being leased or rented, condominium-like spaces are being sold to small businesses, giving them a chance to build equity. Each of the 28 sites are expect to sell for $300,000 to $750,000, depending on size and location on the property.

When: Projected for sometime in February 2006

Where: Green Valley Corporate Park, Fairfield

Info: (415) 381-1680 or go to

Air Expo returns to Travis in October 15-16 with the Air Force's premiere aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds

Article Last Updated: Friday, Aug 26, 2005 - 10:58:56 pm PDT

Air Expo returns to Travis in October

By Ian Thompson

- Heightened security at Travis Air Force Base means visitors to the upcoming Air Expo 2005 in October will have to be more careful about what they bring to the military open house.

The Air Expo, the first one Travis has held since 2000, will be Oct. 15-16 with the Air Force's premiere aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, as the headline act.

All visitors to the event will have to pass through a metal detector and will be unable to bring several items previously allowed into air shows held before the 9-11, terrorist attacks.

The banned items are chairs, backpacks or gym bags, Walkie-Talkies or HAM radios, coolers, glass bottles, motorized scooters, bicycles, roller blades, roller skates, skateboards or weapons of any type. Smoking, pets and alcoholic beverages are prohibited at the Expo.

Members of the Thunderbirds have already visited the base to examine airfield conditions and support services for the team's F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters. Travis is one of

74 appearances the Thunderbirds will make this year.

The expo will also feature performances by the US Air Force Academy's Wings of Blue skydiving team, an F-22 Raptor, and F-15 Eagle and several vintage aircraft dating back to World War II.

There will also be various military aircraft and vehicles from several services on display for visitors to get a first-hand look.

The base tried to put on an expo last year, but work redesigning and rebuilding the base's main and north gates forced that event's cancellation. Organizers said work on the gates won't affect this October's expo.

The gates open for the expo at 9 a.m. each day and close at

5 p.m. As the date for the expo gets closer, the base's public affairs office will release more details of the event.

Reach Ian Thompson at

427-6976 or at

Developers have new vision for Old Town SUISUN CITY

Article Last Updated: Friday, Aug 26, 2005 - 10:57:53 pm PDT

From left, Mike Rice, Kent Bourland and Frank Marinello want to develop the Main Street area in downtown Suisun City. (Photo by Gary Goldsmith)

Developers have new vision for Old Town

By Ian Thompson

- The men behind Main Street West Partners, the firm that wants to revitalize Old Town's economic fortunes, simply have to step out of Miller-Sorg's Kellogg Street office to walk their development sites.

The city hopes lead developers Mike Rice, president of Miller-Sorg, and Frank Marinello of Marinello Real Estate will bring in new retail and live-work developments to Suisun City's center.

Main Street West Partners recently submitted a market research document and has until October to complete site plans.

If the plans are feasible, Suisun City will likely approve an agreement with them to build on Redevelopment Agency-owned parcels in and around the Old Town, interim Redevelopment Director Al da Silva said.

Rice is a Vacaville native who relocated Miller-Sorg's offices to the Suisun City waterfront in 1998 and is responsible for the design and construction of several projects in town.

These have included two office commercial buildings, the Promenade project and a portion of the Harbor Village development. The Promenade live-work project on the city's waterfront has since been lauded as a smart growth development by a local land-use coalition.

When Rice heard about the city's plans to revive its campaign to redevelop the Main Street area, he called Frank Marinello.

Marinello had been the project manager and lead designer for Basin Street's redevelopment of the south side of Petaluma's downtown into a mixed-use theater district.

Rice considered Marinello a good fit for the city's Main Street West project because of his ability to "texture residential development with commercial development."

"I needed someone who was successful in downtown development and Petaluma was an excellent example of where we wanted to go," Rice said.

The Petaluma project was also very similar to what Suisun City was looking for. The area was once mainly home to antique shops, empty car lots and old warehouse buildings. Basin Street's owner, Matt White, once planned to tear down a historic auto showroom and garage, and replace it with a four-story hotel, but was stopped by the Petaluma City Council in 2000.

A group of determined Petaluma teens who wanted to bring a movie theater back to town got White interested in making another try.

White lined up several investors and pumped $10 million into building a theater complex and remodeling the auto garage to accommodate restaurants and retail stores.

Building the theater complex spurred more development. With backing from the city, Basin Street built a $100 million, seven-block redevelopment project that included 225 residences, and retail and office space.

"It has been a very well received project," said Paul Marangella, director of Petaluma's Economic Development Department. "It has done a lot to revitalize the downtown area."

Rice and Marinello were among 20 developers who initially responded to Suisun City's call for proposals and ended up with the exclusive negotiating agreement in June.

Marinello signed on with Main Street West Partners due to Rice's reputation for building good developments and the city's commitment to improving the downtown's economic future, and because the downtown already had the infrastructure in place.

"There is a lot of potential here," Marinello said of the Main Street area. "It is a great opportunity to finish out the private investment portion of downtown."

Rice and Marinello said it is too early to talk about the specifics of what will go into the downtown. They are presently working out what the overall architecture will look like and lining up potential tenants.

They have brought Kent Bourland of William Hazmalhalch Architects of Redding who already has done several projects in Rio Vista, Windsor and American Canyon, among other areas.

"All of the framework is here," Bourland said of the existing downtown. "We hope to craft the right mix of users. It just needs a little push to get it to the next level."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Vallejo's Mare Island Elementary re-opens doors to Farragut pupils

August 29, 2005

M.I. Elementary re-opens doors to Farragut pupils

By J.M. BROWN, Times-Herald staff writer

Kindergarten teacher Stephanie Whitmore greets one of her former students from last year, Kamel Naylor, 6, who will be a first-grader at the newly re-opened Mare Island Elementary School in Vallejo. Whitmore taught at Mare Island up until it closed then transferred to Farragut Elementary until it was phased out last year. Photo: Mike Jory/Times-Herald

When students and teachers enter Mare Island Elementary this morning for the first day of school, they'll see familiar faces, but the surroundings will be totally new.

While that could have triggeredextra first-day jitters, a picnic on the school grounds Sunday helped former Farragut Elementary students, parents and staff alleviate the tension by getting to know each other again and tour their new campus.

The Mare Island school has absorbed Farragut's students and will also serve families moving into new homes on the redeveloped former naval base.

Nearly 300 students were enrolled as of Sunday, which is about 100 shy of the school's capacity, new principal Margaret Clark said. Several families enrolled children on Sunday, which marked a new beginning for a campus that has withstood much change.

"Everybody has just completely come together," Clark said. "Everybody feels very excited about the school year."

For nearly three weeks, 15 teachers and other support staff have been readying the campus for rebirth, a theme felt throughout the island as large, modern houses with infant lawns rise near abandoned Navy buildings once left alone with their gorgeous views of Mount Tamalpais and San Pablo Bay.

"It's beautiful," said kindergarten teacher Stephanie Whitmore. "It's on an island, so it's kind of special."

Whitmore already considers the Mare Island school home and is glad to be back. Having started teaching there in 1990, Whitmore saw the island's transition from the home of a busy naval shipyard into an empty terrain that resembled the Broadway set of South Pacific long after the last curtain call.

The school stayed open after the Navy closed the shipyard but was shut last year by the school district's state administrator, Dr. Richard Damelio, to save money. All of the Mare Island school's students and staff, including Whitmore, were sent to other schools.

But then Damelio decided to close Farragut instead because it could not accommodate new students moving into the 1,400 new homes planned for Mare Island. The island's school is larger, newer and can hold the Farragut students as well as the new children.

"I've seen many changes," Whitmore said, adding that she believes this year will begin the Mare Island school's best chapter yet. "Now we have a mix of community."

Many of Farragut's teachers and staff like Whitmore were moved to the Mare Island school, and new bus routes will shuttle the former Farragut children to make the transition smooth for families. That comforts former Farragut mother Zabrina Robbson, whose two sons - Wayne Shoop and Kamel Naylor - will start the first grade at Mare Island today.

"I was happy with Farragut because it was right around the corner," Robbson said. "(Mare Island) is a little further off. I can't get to (the children) right away.

"But I really appreciate the buses," she added, also conceding the "environment is better" at Mare Island and "there's more room."

Joseph and Alexandra Flores, also parents of a first-grader from Farragut, said the year ahead will ease uncertainty about the transition. But Mare Island school seemed "beautiful" at first glance, they said.

"It looks great," Joseph Flores said. "We don't know until the school year starts."

After a tour of his new school, son Joseph Jr. said, "I like the teacher and the classroom." When asked if he would miss his old school or if he was happy about his new campus, he said, "I'm excited to be here."

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

Friday, August 26, 2005

New city manager fills two top Suisun City positions

Article Last Updated: Thursday, Aug 25, 2005 - 10:51:50 pm PDT

New city manager fills two top Suisun positions

By Ian Thompson

- Suisun City's new city manager has yet to even sit down at her new job and she is already moving on her first goal - filling the city's top positions now held by interim administrators.

Suzanne Bragdon, working through interim City Manager Jim Randall, filled both the planning director and newly created assistant city manager jobs with people she knew from Grover Beach in San Luis Obispo County.

Bragdon had served as an economic development consultant for Grover Beach before taking the job in Suisun City.

Ron Anderson, most recently Grover Beach's city manager, will be Suisun City's assistant city manager starting Sept. 16. Anderson also spent 25 years with the city of Fresno in a variety of positions that included working on the city's finances and managing public utilities.

Jake Raper, also from Grover Beach, is starting immediately as Suisun City's community development director. Before working for Grover Beach, Raper had worked for a number of planning agencies in Central Valley towns such as Riverbank, Waterford and Folsom.

The new city manager has yet to hire people to head the city's redevelopment agency, presently filled by interim director Al da Silva, and the finance department, temporarily filled by Diane Briltz.

Bragdon, who was appointed to her job by the council in mid-July, is expected to start work Aug. 30, Randall said.

The council made building what they called a strong and effective management team Bragdon's first priority when they hired her.

Bragdon also faces tasks of increasing finances in the city's tautly stretched budget, pushing forward redevelopment plans and improving Suisun City's economy.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Vacaville officials, project managers break ground for first phase of Nut Tree redevelopment

Article Last Updated: Thursday, Aug 25, 2005 - 10:51:49 pm PDT

Heavy equipment is laying new utility pipes at the Nut Tree construction site off East Monte Vista Avenue in Vacaville. (Photo by Gary Goldsmith)

Vacaville officials, project managers break ground for first phase of Nut Tree redevelopment

By Christine Cubé

VACAVILLE - The much-loved historic attraction and family entertainment park known as the Nut Tree began its road to revitalization Thursday as city officials and project developers broke ground for the massive redevelopment.

Guests for the ground-breaking ceremony drove through a winding trail of gravel roads before coming to a parking area near the boarded-up Harbison House, circa 1907. There, amid the buzz of construction, a scattering of tents and tables overflowed with fine food and catering. Ripe peaches sat in miniature Nut Tree wooden baskets for guests to take on their way out.

The energy at the ground-breaking event was clear: It was time to bring the Nut Tree back. Renderings of the new Nut Tree sat beneath the shade of trees as members of the business community, Vacaville government and county officials snacked on hors d'oeuvres, sipping fresh-squeezed lemonade.

"This is what put Vacaville on the map," Supervisor Mike Reagan said. "We have a chance to reinvent the concept and the sense of place (of the Nut Tree). Everyone knew about the Nut Tree."

The park closed in 1996 after more than seven decades in operation.

The first phase of the $200 million redevelopment includes shopping and dining, which will take place primarily at Nut Tree Village, a 380,000-square-foot open-air retail and office project. The retail portion of the project will take up roughly 320,000 square feet. Retail developer Westrust, which has offices in San Francisco, has already signed five major retail anchors for the development: Best Buy, Borders, PETsMART, Sport Chalet and HomeGoods.

The entertainment portion of the development - the Nut Tree Family Park - will feature a Bocce Grove, the original Nut Tree train, Harvest Express rollercoaster, Interstate 80 traffic bumper cars and other custom amusement rides.

"This is the future of the city of Vacaville," Mayor Len Augustine said.

Earl Parker, the city's public information officer and resident since 1993, remembered he used to take his children to the Nut Tree on his way from Sacramento to San Francisco.

"We're very excited," Parker said. "When we would drive to San Francisco, we would stop. Now maybe I can bring a grandkid - there's only 14 of them."

Nut Tree Associates, a joint venture between Rockwood Realty and Snell & Co., is the master land developer for the 80-acre project. Westrust is handling the retail development for 30 acres of the total space.

The first phase of the project involves moving the Harbison House, the original home of Nut Tree founders Helen and "Bunny" Powers, to the center of the Nut Tree Family Park. The house will feature memorabilia reflecting the history of the Nut Tree, once a unique stop not only by locals but also celebrities and visiting dignitaries to America. The first phase of the project is estimated to be complete by August 2006.

Subsequent phases of the project will include 120,000 square feet of office space, 180 townhomes, a limited-service hotel and a hotel and conference center. When the project is complete, the retail and entertainment components of the Nut Tree are expected to draw 3 million visitors a year.

Kevin English, partner with Premier Commercial in Fairfield, said the Nut Tree redevelopment is a great example of what happens when small communities and their government work together.

"With a lot of patience, a good vision and consistent local government policy, (it shows) good things will come to a town like Vacaville," English said.

Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Mare Island sewer gets EPA money

Posted on Thu, Aug. 25, 2005

Mare Island sewer gets EPA money

Vallejo has been awarded another $288,700 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to repair Mare Island's 70-year-old sewer system.

That money comes on the heels of last year's EPA award of $337,500. In all, the agency has granted nearly $2.5 million to the sewer replacement project. Construction is expected to begin next month.

New homes and businesses are planned for Mare Island. City leaders have said it could take another decade to become a thriving community. At one time, the Mare Island Naval Shipyard was the biggest employer in Napa and Solano counties. It closed in 1993 after nearly 150 years of building and repairing everything from paddle-wheeled gunboats to nuclear submarines.

The EPA money will go toward sewage pump station upgrades and rehabilitate sewer lines, according to a written release from the agency.

-- Danielle Samaniego


© 2005 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Six Flags for sale - Minimum impact expected for Marine World

August 26, 2005

Six Flags for sale
Minimum impact expected for Marine World

By MATTHIAS GAFNI, Times-Herald staff writer and Associated Press

- Six Flags Inc. on Thursday said its board unanimously decided to put the company up for sale through an auction process, one week after Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder bid to raise his stake in the amusement park operation.

Local officials said the sale, if finalized, would likely cause minor ripples at the Vallejo Six Flags Marine World park.

"I don't think it's a negative thing at all," Vallejo City Manager Roger Kemp said Thursday. "There are 30 theme parks throughout America and we're one of the more profitable places É I think we're helping the stock go up in Vallejo."

Shares of Six Flags, the world's second largest theme-park operator behind Disney, rose 8.6 percent to $7.10 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange. At that price, the company's market capitalization is roughly $661 million.

Six Flags said it would invite dissident shareholder Red Zone LLC - an investment firm controlled by Snyder - to participate in the auction. But it also said it opposed Snyder's attempt to gain control of the company through a tender offer for Six Flags stock.

If Snyder's company gained control, Kemp said he would alert the Vallejo City Council, who basically would have to approve a new signee to the lease.

"For the most part, I think it would be the same staff and same operation there," Kemp said.

Kemp received a call Thursday from park General Manager Bill Davis, who alerted him of the news. Kemp forwarded a news article to council members to keep them abreast.

The city still owns the park and earlier this year gave Oklahoma City-based Six Flags a five-year extension to its option to buy the facility for an estimated $52 million. Kemp said it's unclear how a change in the park operator would affect a potential sale.

"If at some point someone would want to approach us and the price was right, the council would objectively consider the offer," Kemp said.

Marine World officials said they intended to purchase the park at some point during the five-year option.

Marine World spokesman Paul Garcia said Thursday it was premature to speculate how any change in companies would affect such a sale.

"I think right now it's too early to tell. Right now it's a companywide matter with all 30 parks," Garcia said.

Under the current arrangement, Six Flags runs the park and shares its profits with the city - roughly $2 million a year. If the city sells the park, it would relieve itself of debt and receive an operation fee of about $750,000 annually.

Vallejo officials can only watch the takeover bid.

Last Thursday, Snyder's Red Zone said in a letter to shareholders it sought to boost its stake to 34.9 percent from a current 11.7 percent, and would offer $6.50 per share - valuing the entire Six Flags company at about $605.2 million. However, the tender offer is contingent upon the replacement of Burke and Chief Financial Officer James Dannhauser.

Six Flags said putting itself up for sale was "the best way to deliver full and fair value" to shareholders, particularly given Red Zone's proposal, which it called an attempt to wrest control of the company without providing value to all shareholders.

Under Snyder's plan, Mark Shapiro - former programming and production executive at Walt Disney Co. and ESPN - would become CEO of Six Flags, while Snyder would become chairman. Snyder has also proposed increasing the number of board members.

In order to avoid triggering Six Flags' "poison pill" plan - a provision companies use to avoid hostile takeover battles - Snyder has sought only to boost his stake in the company and hasn't bid for full ownership. His proposals must be supported by half of the company's shareholders in order to circumvent the poison pill rules.

Six Flags' stock price has vaulted nearly 37 percent since Red Zone first disclosed its intent to raise its stake in the company.

Six Flags reported a profit in its second quarter ended in June, but has posted annual losses since 1999.

- E-mail Matthias Gafni at or call 553-6825.

Solano County home affordability rises slightly

Note: This was due primarily to one large condominium project in Vallejo that closed over 160 sales in the $120,000 to $290,000 ranges during the past few months. It is now finished its sales. DB

August 26, 2005

Solano home affordability rises slightly
High number of lower-priced homes not a trend that will last, experts say

By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

Of all of California's metro areas, only Solano County recorded an increase - albeit a slight one - in housing affordability in the second quarter of 2005, according to a building industry association's report released Thursday.

Housing affordability in the county went from 16.2 percent to 17.2 percent last quarter, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index report shows. Experts attribute this to a higher number of lower-priced homes on the market locally. It's a seeming trend reversal experts don't expect will last.

"There were an increased number of homes sold in Solano County and more were sold below the median affordability level," said Deana Vladic, spokeswoman for the California Building Industry Association, which produces the quarterly report.

"This is good, because it means more housing was available this quarter. But we don't expect this to have a long-term effect unless more housing is built in the area. It's a supply and demand thing."

But even at just over 7 percent, the area's affordability rating is on the low side compared to many other metro areas. It means fewer than 20 percent of the people earning the area's median income can afford to buy a home here.

Solano County Association of Realtors president Corrine Oakes said the minor rise in the area's affordability rating indicates a blip - a larger-than-usual number of smaller, less expensive homes on the market.

"It's only a snapshot of the market at a given moment," Oakes said. "I don't see home prices falling in Vallejo or in Solano County."

In Tulare County, the state's most "affordable" area, the affordability rating was just 29.3, down from 35.0 three months earlier. Nationwide, the report found that only seven metro areas outside California - New York City; Nassau-Suffolk, NY; Barnstable Town, Mass.; Reno, Nev.; Miami, Fla.; Boston; and Newark, NJ. - were less affordable than Tulare County.

And the rest of the state's housing affordability continued to free-fall during the second quarter.

Robert Rivinius, the building association's chief executive officer, said state and local policymakers must act to reverse the downward affordability spiral, which is due primarily to new housing supply not keeping pace with the state's burgeoning population. California is adding between 500,000 and 600,000 people annually, the equivalent of adding the population of Boston or Milwaukee every year, he said.

To keep pace, there needs to be 30,000 to 40,000 homes and apartments built annually, Rivinius said.

"During the 1990s, affordability was not great by national standards, but it still stood at 50 or 60 percent in many parts of the state," he said. "Even in San Francisco, it was in the 20-percent range. But today, affordability can be measured in single digits in half our metro areas, and less than 30 percent in our most affordable region. The national average, meanwhile, is 45.9 percent."

The California Building Industry Association is a statewide trade association representing more than 6,300 businesses - home builders, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, engineers, designers and other industry professionals.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Rebirth of a landmark: Nut Tree to be revived in Vacaville

August 25, 2005

Rebirth of a landmark: Nut Tree to be revived

By TOM HALL, The Reporter, Vacaville

A DESIGNER'S DRAWING shows the grounds of the planned Nut Tree complex. Courtesy art

VACAVILLE - It began as a fruit stand. It grew into one of California's favorite roadside stops with a famed restaurant that hosted not only Vacaville's children and farmers, but world leaders and celebrities.

It fell apart, reportedly losing bushels of money before closing.

Then, idea after idea popped up, and each in turn was punctured. A facade was torn down. A train was taken off the tracks. Finally, a landmark was gone.

Now, however, the Nut Tree is poised to rise again.

Golden shovels will dig into the fallow dirt of the grounds today as work begins on a project promising new glitter for Vacaville.

If all goes according to plan, next summer will see completion of the first phase of a new Nut Tree, with a family amusement park, specialty retailers, a court for bocce and several eateries.

Roger Snell & Co. of Greenbrae is the master developer of the project. Snell first began working with the city on the project in 2001, developing a plan of how to resurrect the landmark.

The city purchased 80 acres at the old Nut Tree site for $7.5 million in 2000 after numerous development plans for the site had fallen through. Now it's selling the land to Snell & Co.

A major component of the $75 million first phase is the Nut Tree Family Park. Within it, a roller coaster - the Harvest Express - is planned, along with bumper cars and a couple of old favorites - the Nut Tree Train and the Nut Tree Hobby Horses.

The Nut Tree Village - 300,000 square feet of retail outlets and restaurants - also will be built in the coming year. San Francisco's Westrust Ventures will develop that component of the project.

Five retailers are locked in to anchor the village: Best Buy, a consumer electronics chain with 830 locations in the United States and Canada (the nearest of which is in Fairfield); Borders, a major retailer of books, music and movies with 1,200 locations around the world; PETsMART, a pet supply retailer with 700 locations in North America; Sport Chalet, a small chain of specialty sporting goods stores just breaking into the Northern California market; and HomeGoods, a chain from the same corporate family as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, selling "off-price home fashion."

Yet-to-be-named upscale eateries are also planned for the village. A "market pavilion" will feature fresh produce, specialty fare and locally-crafted artwork.

The famous Harbison House - a century-old relic of the founding Power family - will be restored and kept at the Nut Tree. The house is scheduled to be moved a relatively short distance.

The Vacaville Museum, led by director Shawn Lum, then will dig into a comprehensive restoration of the house, which will serve as a visual history of the Nut Tree and the Power family.

The old Nut Tree first opened as a fruit stand in 1921. Helen Harbison Power sold goods to travelers making their way down the old Lincoln Highway.

A year later, the Nut Tree Restaurant opened. In later years, the famous dinner spot hosted both a pre-presidential Richard Nixon and a post-presidential Gerald Ford. The Western-style fare was so revered that the Nut Tree catered parties for Hollywood glitterati at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon and for the Queen of England in Sacramento.

In the early 1960s, Edwin Power Jr. - the son of Helen Harbison and Edwin Power Sr. - built and opened the Nut Tree Airport, bringing a whole new clientele to the restaurant complex.

Through 25 years of Rotary Fly-Ins hosted at the airport, aerospace luminaries like Neil Armstrong and Jimmy Doolittle visited Vacaville.

The airport was given to the county in the 1970s.

In the 1990s, the restaurant reportedly began losing money. It closed in January 1996, amid reports of a family dispute.

Several developers tried to purchase the property in the ensuing years, but no plans ever took hold. The city stepped in to purchase the core of the Nut Tree area in 2000.

Jill Katz from Snell & Co. said the site was tough to plot, partly because of what's around the property. The airport to the north meant strict Federal Aviation Agency height regulations. The Putah South Canal and Interstate 80 also served to decrease design flexibility.

"It's a site that needed to be planned and designed carefully," Katz said.

Sausalito-based April Philips Design Works tackled the master site plan design and landscape architecture for the project. The Cunningham Group from Marina del Rey was the architect for the family park, and MCG Architecture out of San Francisco did the retail portion.

Katz said building the right team to get the project right was the most important task.

"There was some excellent design work from April Philips, and everything really came together well," Katz said. "And the city has been very cooperative."

- Tom Hall can be reached at

Vacaville ceremony to mark new Nut Tree's start

Article Launched: 08/25/2005 06:30:07 AM

Ceremony to mark new Nut Tree's start

By Tom Hall/Staff Writer

Construction crews clear dirt Wednesday morning near Travis Credit Union Park, the site of today's ground-breaking. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

The paperwork apparently still is being ironed out, but dirt will turn nonetheless this morning as work on the new Nut Tree officially gets under way.

Though escrow on the sale of 80 acres at the old Nut Tree site had not closed as of Wednesday evening, work at the site already had begun.

The city, which owns the land, has agreed to allow developer Nut Tree Associates to get started with the project while paperwork is completed. The deadline for escrow to close is Sept. 6.

An invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. today to mark the official beginning of work for the $75 million first phase of the project.

That phase includes a family amusement park, a 380,000-square-foot retail and dining complex, a bocce grove and an open-air marketplace.

Nut Tree Associates is a group comprising master developer Roger Snell & Co., retail developer Westrust Ventures and financial backer Rockwood Capital. Snell first approached the city in 2002, and has built the team since.

The Nut Tree, which first opened as a fruit stand in 1921 and as a restaurant in 1922, closed in 1996 after reportedly losing money for several years.

The city purchased 80 acres of the original Nut Tree Ranch in September 2000 for $7.5 million. Terms of the current deal have not been disclosed.

Five anchors for Westrust's Nut Tree Village have been named: book and music retailer Borders, pet supply store PETsMART, speciality sporting goods retailer Sport Chalet, discount home fashion retailer Home Goods and consumer electronics chain Best Buy.

Ricardo Capretta of Westrust said Wednesday that interest in the project is high, and that names of up to seven more tenants for the village will be released in about a month.

Going almost hand-in-hand with the private development of the Nut Tree, work on an ambitious infrastructure project around the historic site continues.

The $15.7 million public-private overhaul of the roads in the Nut Tree area began in June. It includes expansion of the Nut Tree Road overcrossing at Interstate 80, the realignment of a long stretch of East Monte Vista Avenue and the revamp of the Interstate 80-East Monte Vista interchange.

The overcrossing, currently a two-lane undivided road, will become a four-lane overpass with a concrete divider.

East Monte Vista between the Putah South Canal and the Nut Tree Airport will be rebuilt 300 feet to the north of the existing road. The new avenue will be a four-lane road. That stretch of East Monte Vista currently undulates between two and four lanes.

The funding for the infrastructure project comes from three sources, City Manager David Van Kirk said. Contributions from the area landowners, including Nut Tree Associates and Lowe's Home and Garden Warehouse, were made, and funds came from the city's redevelopment agency and from collected traffic impact fees.

Work on both the infrastructure project and the new Nut Tree is expected to be completed early in the summer of 2006.

Tom Hall can be reached at

Next Steps - County supervisors decided by a 3-2 margin on Tuesday to allow the dump to grow from 320 acres to 580 acres.

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Aug 24, 2005 - 10:31:03 pm PDT

Details remain in landfill expansion

By Barry Eberling

- Bulldozers won't begin grading land for the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion just yet.

County supervisors decided by a 3-2 margin on Tuesday to allow the dump to grow from 320 acres to 580 acres. County staff is preparing the necessary resolutions for an official vote. That could come at the Sept. 13 board meeting and would seem to be a mere formality.

Still, Republic Services has several more steps to take before it can enlarge the dump in the hills southeast of Suisun City. The dump serves Fairfield, Suisun City and Rio Vista, as well as numerous communities within a 150-mile radius.

The spotlight could next shine on the 27-member San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which oversees development in areas near the region's bays. It also oversees laws protecting Suisun Marsh, the largest remaining wetlands area in the state.

Potrero Hills Landfill is nestled amid hills that are within the Suisun Marsh protection area, as defined by state and local laws. The Board of Supervisors intends to issue a marsh permit needed to expand the dump. Opponents to the expansion say they will appeal the marsh permit to BCDC.

Staff from BCDC has already commented on the project. Executive Director Will Travis sent a letter to the county saying the Potrero Hills expansion could hurt Suisun Marsh. The upland hills are important to marsh wildlife, he wrote.

"Overall, the proposed project would result in significant industrial and construction activities in Potrero Hills for the coming 45 to 75 years," Travis wrote.

But the commission itself has yet to take a position. Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, who opposes the expansion and voted against it, is Solano County's representative on BCDC. Supervisor John Silva, who favors the expansion, is the alternate.

Kondylis said she will ask Silva to represent Solano County at the meeting concerning Potrero Hills, should the appeal be filed. That's because he agrees with the county's official position.

"I could go there and vote any way I want, but that wouldn't be appropriate," Kondylis said.

Commissioners will soon get the chance to see Suisun Marsh for themselves. They will take a bus tour of the marsh at 10 a.m. Sept. 1.

Kondylis suggested having the tour because so many of the commissioners are new, she said. She had anticipated the Potrero Hills issue might end up before the commission, she said.

The public can also take the tour. People should call Estella Corona at (415) 352-3600 no later than Friday to reserve a seat on the bus.

Commissioners will meet at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Solano County Government Center at 675 Texas St. Among the topics for the meeting is a briefing on the importance of Suisun Marsh.

The tour and meeting were scheduled before the Board of Supervisors agreed to allow the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion. BCDC as of yet has no appeal on the Potrero Hills Landfill expansion before it.

Republic Services will need still more permits to expand the dump. Among the agencies it must work with are the state Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Integrated Waste Management Board and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Staff from some of these agencies have already submitted comments to the county. For example, Fish and Game said it has concerns about the use of falcons at the dump to keep away seagulls.

Potrero Hills Landfill owners say the dump will fill up in eight to 10 years unless it is enlarged.

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

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Concord base closer to closure - nearly 5,200 acres of the 12,800-acre base, could eventually support up to 13,500 homes and 15,000 jobs

East Bay Business Times - 2:33 PM PDT Wednesday

Concord base closer to closure

At a Wednesday meeting of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, the panel voted 59-1 to support a recommendation to shut down the inland portion of Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Detachment Concord.

A final vote on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 27. If the recommendation is upheld again, the base formerly known as the Concord Naval Weapons Station will join 33 other facilities nationwide being shut down by the U.S. Department of Defense, while another 29 are being realigned for new uses.

Port operations in the waterfront portion of the facility, now called Military Ocean Terminal Concord, will continue.

The closure should come as good news to Concord city officials, who have lobbied for the facility's closure. The inland area, which comprises nearly 5,200 acres of the 12,800-acre base, could eventually support up to 13,500 homes and enough offices, stores and warehouses to generate up to 15,500 jobs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Patrice Hall was named chairperson Vallejo's Economic Development Commission

August 24, 2005

Local EDC announces a new chairperson

Patrice Hall was named chairperson of the city of Vallejo's Economic Development Commission, it was announced last week.

Besides her work with the commission and as a Realtor, Hall has served a number of other committees, associations and boards.

A Vacaville pep rally for educators

Article Launched: 08/24/2005 07:31:40 AM

A pep rally for educators
Event inspires district staff

By Julie Kay/Staff Writer

Hundreds of teachers and others listen Tuesday morning to comments from guest speakers like 2005 National Teacher of the Year Jason Kamras during the Vacaville Unified School District's back to school assembly at Travis Credit Union Park. (Rick Roach/The Reporter)

Hundreds of Vacaville Unified School District staff members filled the bleachers of Travis Credit Union Park on Tuesday morning to start off a new school year with coffee, bagels and a few words of inspiration.

"For many students, you will be the most significant influence in their young lives," Assemblywoman Lois Wolk told the crowd assembled around the baseball diamond beneath the rapidly warming sun.

Wolk, who represents Solano and Yolo Counties, once served as a teacher herself. She called the field of education "the most important one I can think of."

"Our children are, indeed, our future," she said.

The annual back-to-school breakfast brings together the district's entire staff, including teachers, principals, administrative staff, therapists, psychologists, maintenance workers, and custodians. Speakers, who included Solano County Superintendent of Schools Dee Alarcon, Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine and National Teacher of the Year Jason Kamras, echoed a common theme.

"Thank you," began Kamras, the event's keynote speaker.

The two words, he said, are not said enough to education staff.

"Thank you for offering your abundant talents not to those who pay you the most, but to those who need you the most," he said. "Thank you for building dreams, and fortifying self-confidence."

Kamras, a Sacramento native, has taught math at John Philip Sousa Middle School in Washington, D.C., since 1996. About 90 percent of his students live in poverty, he said. He told stories of some of the students who have most inspired him, and called unequal access to good education "the greatest social injustice facing our country today."

"We must be (students') voice, their advocates, their champions," he said, eliciting a standing ovation.

Fulfilling the breakfast's Hawaiian theme, those in attendance sported colorful tropical shirts and plastic leis. Alarcon greeted staff with an "aloha," and closed her speech with a "mahalo."

The audience also got to hear from the district's teacher of the year, Brian Riley, a history teacher at Vacaville High School. Explaining he was most used to asking questions, Riley gave those attending a brief interrogation.

He asked: how many of them wished they were in their classrooms getting ready for school? How many of them had been to half-hour faculty meetings that seemed to last 29 minutes too long? How many of them knew they had touched the life of a student?

"In my opinion, you are all teachers of the year," he told them.

Julie Kay can be reached at

Benicia now is home to up-and-coming maker of sports drinks Cytosport, Inc

August 24, 2005

Benicia now is home to up-and-coming maker of sports drinks

By GREG MOBERLY, Times-Herald staff writer

Greg Pickett is the owner of Cytosport, Inc. in Benicia's Industrial Park. Cytosport is the maker of Cytomax, a sports drink, and Muscle Milk, a protein-based meal supplement. Cytomax is available now in GNC, 7-Eleven and Albertsons. Photo: David Pacheco/Times-Herald

- Cytomax and Muscle Milk may not be the first names that come to mind when the average weekend warrior thinks of sports energy drinks or workout supplements.

But the products aren't hidden to many elite professional athletes who've consumed them, including Jerry Rice, Randy Johnson, Lance Armstrong and Jake Plummer, said Cytosport Inc. President Greg Pickett.

Pickett's Cytosport Inc. hasn't even been in business for 10 years and it's grown from a five-person operation in Walnut Creek to a more than 100-employee organization, located in the Benicia Industrial Park.

"It was a well-kept secret for a number of years," Pickett said of his Cytomax brand.

Pickett, 58, acquired the Cytomax brand from Concord-based Champion Nutrition. He'd worked for Champion for decades before establishing Cytosport Inc. in 1998.

In the past couple years, Cytosport Inc. has pushed to make a bigger dent in the energy drink market, which is dominated by more readily known brands such as Gatorade, Powerade and All Sport.

Pickett, in recent years, has made Cytomax available at GNC, 7-Eleven and Albertsons.

The company doesn't have the advertising money that Gatorade, which is owned by Pepsi, does, Pickett said. To make up for that, Cytosport Inc. sends sales representatives to

300 bike races, road races and triathlons each year, he said.

Those athletes may be catching on to what Garrett Giemont, head strength and conditioning coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said he's known for several years now.

Cytomax isn't like any other sports energy drink, Giemont said.

Dr. George Brooks, an exercise physiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, developed a special designer molecule to be used exclusively in Cytomax, Pickett said. The molecule is nonsugar-based, which is a more efficient energy source than ingredients used in other energy drinks, he said.

Giemont has known of Pickett since the mid-1990s, when Giemont was the Oakland Raiders' head strength and conditioning coordinator. Giemont was with the Raiders from 1995 to 2002.

Giemont said he enjoyed products Pickett helped produce when Pickett was with Champion Nutrition in Concord in the early 1980s.

"He's good enough not to charge us," Giemont said of his arrangement with Pickett. But he doesn't use the products just because they're free, he said.

"I believe in them," Giemont said.

Giemont said Cytomax has a lot less sugar than any other sports drink, which helps alleviate fatigue better.

"They are really, really scientifically based," Giemont said of Cytosport products.

Giemont also praised Muscle Milk, which is a protein-based meal supplement that is beneficial during and after workouts, he said.

Pickett said he's concerned children aren't getting enough good nutritious food or drinks. He soon may do something about that with the help of two food and beverage industry giants.

Coke and "one of America's fast food giants" are talking with Cytosport about possibly making what Pickett calls more nutritionally complete products. In other words, he said the companies are looking to make nutritional beverages compatible with active lifestyles.

- E-mail Greg Moberly at or call 553-6833.

Vallejo Holiday Inn to get Mariott name, look

August 24, 2005

Holiday Inn to get Mariott name, look

By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

CORPOREX, a Cincinnati-based hotel development company, plans to remodel the Vallejo Holiday Inn for operation as a Courtyard by Marriott hotel. Photo: J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald

After approval by the Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, the Holiday Inn Vallejo-Napa Valley Gateway is poised to change hands and become a Courtyard by Marriott, hotel and county officials said.

The Holiday Inn is in escrow with Corporex, a large, 40-year-old Cincinnati-based hotel development firm, said Corporex spokesman Jim Warshawski.

Though Corporex is well-known in the Midwest and southeast United States, the Vallejo deal is among its first forays into California and the first in northern California, Warshawski said.

Pending all the details working out, which should take a couple weeks, Warshawski said, the Holiday Inn on Vallejo's Fairgrounds Drive is in for a total renovation. He said complete details of the sale can't be disclosed yet because the process is in a sensitive phase.

"We'll convert it to a Marriott Courtyard if the sale goes through," Warshawski said. "The exterior facade will be refinished to resemble a new Courtyard - a cleaner, more modern design - but most of the cost of the remodel will be on the inside. The lobby will be totally redesigned and rebuilt. So will the bathrooms. There will be new furniture and carpet. It will look like a new, modern, state-of-the-art Courtyard by Marriott."

The improvements will mean an upgrade for the city of Vallejo and Solano County, he said.

"It will be a nice improvement for the county," Warshawski said. "Marriott and Hilton are known as the leaders in quality hotels, so it's certainly a step up."

Solano County Supervisor Barbara Kondylis of Vallejo said "it's a great idea," but notes the sale isn't final and anything could happen.

The county Board of Supervisors approved the plan 5-0 Tuesday.

Warshawski said the opportunity to buy the Holiday Inn came to his firm's attention last year, "just about the time we started the program to build new hotels." He said he knows of no opposition to the project.

"Anybody can intuitively know that a new Marriott is an improvement over an older Holiday Inn - that it can only be a benefit," Warshawski said.

Vallejo City Manager Roger Kemp thinks so, too.

"I would say this is good. It's a great location, too, with its proximity to the highway and Marine World, and with what will be going on there in the next few years," Kemp said, referring to the planned redevelopment of the Solano County Fairgrounds into a year-round retail/entertainment destination. Kemp said the hotel, like the fairgrounds, sits on county-owned land.

"The current ground lease expires in 2011, with four 10-year options that take it out to 2051," Kemp said. "That's why the county has to approve the sale."

The Holiday Inn building was originally approved by the Solano County Board of Supervisors in 1979 and built in the 1980s, according to newspaper clippings from the time, said Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum executive director Jim Kern.

The hotel was purchased from Ron Pitamber of Pitamber Enterprises by the Modesto-based Rim Hospitality Corp. in July 1999. Rim made $2 million in renovations and hosted a big celebration when they were finished in 2000.

Holiday Inn General Manager Gary Gomez, a Rim employee, said Corporex officials have toured the property several times in the past few months. Gomez said he thinks Rim will continue managing the property if the sale is finalized, which company officials expect will be by the end of August.

"They've had architects snooping around, so they're planning it, and the place could use a facelift. But any sale is potential until the ink is dry," Gomez said.

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

Vallejo wants to unclog Callaghan near Redwood Parkway

August 24, 2005

Vallejo wants to unclog Callaghan

By CHRIS G. DENINA, Times-Herald staff writer

RUSH HOUR traffic backs up Tuesday at the four-way stop at Admiral Callaghan Lane near Redwood Parkway in Vallejo. It's an intersection the city intends to improve. Photo: Mike Jory/Times-Herald

Highway 37 isn't the only Vallejo road getting a makeover.

City officials plan to fix up Admiral Callaghan Lane as well. On Tuesday, the City Council approved matters related to improving the road from Redwood Parkway to Rotary Way and from Tennessee to Henry streets.

The changes may not be as dramatic as the new Highway 37 overpass, which gives motorists a nonstop path through Vallejo, but travelers along a busy section of Admiral Callaghan Lane should get some relief from heavy, slow traffic.

"It gets pretty backed up during rush hour," City Engineer Gary Leach said Tuesday before the council meeting.

The projects are still in the early stages, but construction on the stretch near Henry Street could begin as early as next summer, Leach said.

That's a relief to Cheryl Garcia of Vallejo. She was doing laundry in the Safeway shopping center near Admiral Callaghan Lane and Redwood Parkway during Tuesday's evening commute.

"It's OK, but it's dangerous," Garcia said, noting that the intersections and freeway off-ramps on that stretch of Admiral Callaghan are poorly laid out.

From Redwood Parkway to Rotary Way, crews would overhaul the design of two intersections where motorists exit the freeway.

The council OK'd a fee increase for a consulting firm to design such fixes as modifying the off-ramps. SNG & Associates Inc. of Pleasanton tripled its original estimate to about $75,000.

"How could we have been so far off?" Councilmember Joanne Schivley asked at Tuesday's meeting.

Caltrans was supposed to help with the project but backed out because of a state budget crunch, driving up the costs for the city, said Leach.

About $463,000 is budgeted for the work.

From Tennessee to Henry streets, workers would repave the cracked road. The council approved earmarking about $41,000 in gas taxes to match a $315,000 federal grant the city wants to pay for the project.

Leon Singleton of Vallejo told the council it should extend repairs to other areas of Admiral Callaghan Lane, especially closer to Georgia Street. "Certain times of night, it's dangerous," Singleton said.

City officials propose several major changes to Admiral Callaghan Lane near Redwood Parkway. Interstate 80 motorists exiting the freeway eastbound at Redwood Parkway can only turn right at the bottom of the ramp. Plans call for allowing cars to continue north onto Admiral Callaghan Lane.

During busy commute times, traffic often gets clogged at the off-ramp to westbound Redwood Street. Plans include making the exit right-turn-only and adding a second lane. Officials say that should allow cars to directly merge onto Admiral Callaghan lane and ease the bottleneck.

The road is just too busy, the city's Leach said. In recent years, the intersections have become a major access route to the growing number of stores and homes in the area. The road needs updating, he said.

"There's just too much going on there," Leach said. "We're trying to eliminate a lot of that."

- E-mail Chris G. Denina at or call 553-6835.

Salt Lake City-based RC Willey Home Furnishings is looking for a spot in Vacaville

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, Aug 23, 2005 - 11:31:27 pm PDT

Vacaville may get new furniture store

By Christine Cubé

- On the heels of plans by home furnishings giant Ashley Furniture to open a store in Fairfield, Vacaville is in talks with its own prospective furniture retailer.

Salt Lake City-based RC Willey Home Furnishings is looking for a spot in Vacaville, real estate sources said. It would be RC Willey's second location in California. Its first store is opening in Rocklin.

Clark Yospe, vice president of marketing for the furniture company, wouldn't confirm what the company's plans are with regard to locating in Vacaville.

"That may be the case, but I'm not the person to release the information," Yospe said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to have more than one store in the Sacramento area. Where that will be, we don't know."

RC Willey Home Furnishings president Jeff Child declined to comment. Company executives would be more likely to talk about a deal or land negotiations "as soon as we get closer to something," Yospe said.

RC Willey Home Furnishings is among several businesses looking for space in the city, City Council Vice Mayor Pauline Clancy confirmed.

"I would love to see something like that locate in Vacaville because there's a great need," Clancy said. "Furniture options now are small local businesses that are doing very well. But some of the things that new homeowners need are not available in Vacaville - a wider choice, for instance."

Many of the businesses shopping for a location are skipping over Fairfield "because we are business friendly," she added.

"We work very closely with people who want to locate in our city and at times we expedite the process for them," she said. "Vacaville is getting to a point where we can pick and choose who we want. We want quality."

Last month, Fairfield officials announced plans for a massive, 46,000-square-foot Ashley Furniture store to be built next to the Saturn dealership on Interstate 80.

Real estate brokerage Colliers International closed on the deal with Retail Endeavors Group, which bought 5.41 acres adjacent to the Auto Mall. The new furniture store will be Ashley Furniture's first store in Solano County.

RC Willey Home Furnishings has 17 locations, mostly in Utah and Nevada, according to the company's Web site.

Reach Christine Cubé at 427-6934 or

Fairfield's Life Before/After School and The Place 2 B After 3 school earmarked to get a $595,200 grant

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, Aug 23, 2005 - 11:44:56 pm PDT

Teacher Regina Williams helps Arenisha Thomas, right, and Dejanae Odham with their homework at an after school program. (Photo By Judith Sagami/Daily Republic)

Local after school programs get state grant

By Ian Thompson

- Fairfield's Life Before/After School and The Place 2 B After 3 school programs are earmarked to get a $595,200 grant from the Department of Education, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, announced Tuesday.

The programs "have made a tremendous contribution in the lives of Solano County kids," Tauscher said in a press release

"I am always pleased to support important projects like these that keep our kids safe, off the streets and learning," she added.

The money will pay for creating the Kids Corner programs at six additional elementary schools, expansion of The Place 2 B After 3 to a new middle school site and expanded hours at the four current schools, and development of recreation programs through the Fun On The Run mobile recreational program.

More than 300 elementary school and more than 400 middle school students are enrolled in the city-run programs which have been run for more than 20 years.

Tauscher wrote a letter supporting the program asking other members of Congress to consider it one of her highest priorities, saying Fairfield residents benefit from reducing the number of unsupervised youth.

"This proposal has the support of Fairfield's chief of police as a means to reduce juvenile crime and delinquency," Tauscher wrote in the letter.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

Copyright Daily Republic. All rights reserved.

Solano County fared better than most of the state's 58 counties in grabbing a portion of the $286 billion federal transportation bill - $74 per capita

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Article Last Updated: 8/23/2005 08:46 AM

Flow of transit funding
Vast disparity in way federal money distributed


Solano County fared better than most of the state's 58 counties in grabbing a portion of the $286 billion federal transportation bill.
It works out to about $74 per capita, ranking Solano County 16th when compared to other counties in the state.

More than $30 million was pulled by area congressional representatives for such projects as the interchange at Interstate 80, I-680 and state Highway 12, Jepson Parkway upgrades, a Rio Vista bridge study and construction of a carpool lane on I-80 in Vallejo.

While the state's congressional delegation was able to direct nearly $23 billion to projects in California, there is a backlog of $100 billion in projects, mostly because of a swelling state population and years of tight budgets. That backlog includes aging roads and bridges, clogged freeways and inadequate public transportation.
Of the $23 billion designated for the state, $3.4 billion will be earmarked for projects selected by lawmakers. The rest will be doled out to local planning agencies and the state Department of Transportation.
That is the good news.

But what is clear from the results of the once-every-six-years transportation budget process is that there are certain disturbing disparities when it comes to which counties get what sums of money for vital transportation projects.
For some counties the funding 'flowed like a carefree commute,' reported an Associated Press story on the transportation bill, while a few smaller counties received no funding whatsoever for special projects.

An Associated Press analysis of the funding bill pointed to two of the fastest growin"

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