ECO: The Environmental Cleanup Opportunities (ECO) project, previously known as the Homeless Work Program, is off and running. Under this program, the city – with the help of Able Industries and the Workforce Investment Board – is employing 10 homeless people part-time to work on trash abatement and graffiti removal around our community for three months. The program started at the end of July, and we are now fully staffed. The crews have averaged collecting 20 yards of trash material per week, including clearing two homeless camps and covering about 10 miles along Highway 198. Their cleaning efforts are now reaching our city ditches, alleys, and trails. I hope you’ve noticed the difference! We’re looking forward to helping these trainees transition into full-time employment in the private sector, and we appreciate their help in improving our clean city.

In God We Trust: At our August 21 City Council meeting, on the agenda was the issue of whether or not to place our national motto, In God We Trust, on the wall of council chambers. The council voted not to do so. There are many wonderful mottos and slogans out there which we fully appreciate and support, including In God We Trust, E. Pluribus Unum, and Do A Good Turn Daily; how do you select just one? In the Gubler home, we have the words “One Nation Under God” posted on our kitchen wall. The cost estimate to mount the requested phrase was approximately $2,000, and as public stewards of city monies, we have to be careful how each dollar is spent. Finally, the council, for many years has begun every meeting with the flag salute and a prayer given by various local ministers and pastors, and we always appreciate those additional blessings and thoughts. Certainly, we should all live so as to demonstrate our trust in God.

2018 Senior Games: Planning is now underway for our Third Annual Senior Games, to be held March 10-11 and 17-18, 2018. We just got the final numbers in for our successful 2017 games, and we came out in the black by $1,308.65. With more than 500 participants in 2017 from throughout California, and from as far away as Washington and Texas, we’re looking to build upon that success in 2018. Start getting in shape now; more details will be forthcoming.

VECC: The Visalia Emergency Communications Center (VECC) building was turned over to the city by the contractor the last week of August. Fire administration, along with our 911 call center, immediately began moving in equipment, furniture, consoles, and highly specialized computer equipment. Network fiber was also brought into the building to make high-speed connections. The ribbon-cutting was held September 20 and this beautiful new building is up and running.

In the near future, look for the ribbon-cutting for our newly remodeled Water Conservation Plant. The plant has been testing the new membranes and filters for the last few months, and we hope to have the new facility up and working as soon as the city receives the permit from the state for tertiary water.

KTIP Radio: Since last year, I’ve been interviewed each Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. by Hopper and PK about current issues before the Visalia City Council. Be sure to tune to AM 1450 to listen in.

Caldwell Widening: The city, county and TCAG have broken ground, and the work has commenced to widen Avenue 280 (Caldwell Avenue) from two lanes to four lanes between Akers Street and Highway 99, with signalization. This will be a terrific infrastructure improvement to Visalia’s southern gateway, in essence making Caldwell Avenue four lanes throughout the city, using Measure R funds. It will take approximately 16 months to complete. Also, the Betty Drive interchange upgrade in Goshen is underway, and will greatly improve access to Visalia’s Industrial Park along Riggin Avenue. It is scheduled for completion in Fall 2019.

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