We’ve just finished Veteran’s Day and the Thanksgiving season, and look forward to our wonderful December religious holidays and celebrations. During this special time of year, we tend to reflect more upon the importance of giving thanks for our many blessings. My family feels especially blessed to live in this great city of Visalia and to call it home. It’s not just the bricks and mortar that make our city great, but the many wonderful people and friends that we have here. The Gublers have resided in Visalia for 35 years, and have watched the community grow from 57,000 to 133,000 people during that time. I receive many compliments about what a well-planned city Visalia is, and how we have experienced smart growth. But I still believe it is the quality of our citizens that makes the difference.

With the many natural disasters this country has experienced in the last few months, including in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico, and fires in our own state, we should give thanks that we live in a stable environment here in Central California, that food is plentiful, and our infrastructure is sound. Even flooding, which Visalia has historically experienced, is now a rare occurrence.

Visalia also has the lowest crime rate in the county, and one of the lowest in the state. We thank our public safety officers, both police and firefighters. You might be interested to learn that we recently received a federal grant for $153,000.00, covering 50 percent of the cost of purchasing body cams for our police patrol staff of 112 officers. Visalia actually applied for this funding previously, but got turned down because the federal agency determined our local police efforts were effective, and we didn’t have problems with community relations like more needy communities. It was actually a compliment, recognizing that local law enforcement is on such good terms with our citizens. Now that the initial federal funding has gone to more needy communities, our turn has arrived. The City Council previously chose to take a wait-and-see approach on body cams, but is ready now to move forward on this. By holding off a little, we were able to learn from the experiences of other cities who already have implemented body cams, and we were able to obtain this extra funding to help defray expenses.

We should also be thankful for our straight, wide roads throughout the city. Our Public Works Department is constantly vigilant, timely resurfacing our roads to make them top quality for traveling purposes. I was recently asked by a citizen for an update on the coned-off area of westbound Visalia Parkway, just east of Demaree. The coned-off area of the roadway is closed to traffic due to a subgrade settlement. The city performed an inspection by boring, and learned a previously unknown organic cavity underneath the roadway had caused the settling. The cost associated with this boring and repair requires a formal bid and city council authorization. Staff is working to put this project out to bid now and once the bid period closes, staff will take the report to the City Council for review and authorization. While this process continues, the roadway will remain coned off to prevent further safety concerns.

We also sometimes take for granted the ease with which we dispose of our garbage. We appreciate our solid waste department for making this appear effortless. The plan in 2018 is that Visalians will convert from split cans to a three-can system. As part of the implementation of this project, the city will bring in-house a new utility billing system and solid waste operation system at a cost of approximately $1.5 million. Currently the city is using an outside vendor in Phoenix, Arizona, to handle this. By bringing it in-house, we will create more local jobs and there will be a cost savings factor. It should pay for itself within three years. Included in these new garbage cans will be computer chips so that the city can monitor trash pickup, time of pickup, and location of the trucks. If the city receives a complaint from a citizen, it will be able to determine immediately what occurred and how to remedy the same.

I could wax eloquent about many other services provided by the city that we sometimes overlook. Suffice it to say we are very blessed to live in this great valley and city. Let us all give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and continue to contribute in our own ways to make Visalia our home.

If you have questions or topics regarding the city that you would like to have addressed in future articles, please email me at warren.gubler@visalia.city. For past articles, visit directfromwarren.blogspot.com.