Supervisor John Gray

November 2017 Supervisor Article:

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to remember that we, as Americans enjoy many freedoms, but with those freedoms come responsibility and choice. We work together as a society to choose the direction that will guide us as a community.

Last month my article took on “a life of its own” and grew in size because I tried to cover so many topics at one time. This month I’ll cover only one topic.. Marijuana- which is a big topic on its own.

The County Board of Supervisors (BOS) and staff have spent countless hours working on this subject. A brief history follows.

In 1996 California voters approved Proposition 215, “The Compassionate Use Act”. 215 was passed and implemented as a legal means to enable persons to obtain and use marijuana under limited circumstances, for medical purposes, without fear of criminal prosecution. One condition under this act was that the person requesting the substance must possess and present a medical marijuana card issued by a medical physician.

California courts have affirmed that cities and counties have the authority to regulate, and even ban, the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.

In 2015, the California legislature adopted the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act establishing a State regulatory system for the commercial cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution, testing and sale of medical marijuana. This act reaffirms the city and county’s authority to regulate medical marijuana and to require that applicants for State permits must also apply for and receive a local permit, as well.

How are the various activities in the act defined? “Cultivation” is the growing or marijuana plants. “Processing” is the cutting and drying of mature marijuana plants. “Manufacturing” is the incorporating of marijuana with other products. This includes marijuana “edibles” as well as the production of products (for example: “honey oil”) through the use of volatile solvents such as butane. “Distribution” is the transportation of marijuana and marijuana products from cultivators and/ or manufacturers to retail establishments. “Testing” references the testing of marijuana and marijuana products for potency levels. “Sales” is the selling of the product to the consumer.

In the spring of 2016, after receiving numerous complaints about illegal marijuana grows, a zoning ordinance was adopted to establish regulations for personal cultivation of medical marijuana.

The regulation allows a qualified patient or caregiver residing on a parcel to cultivate up to 12 plants outdoors, or 24 plants indoors, within a 50 square foot contiguous area. If two or more qualified patients or caregivers reside on a parcel, up to 24 plants can be grown outdoors. (Go to Tuolumne County web page to view this ordinance under Ordinance Code 17.67).

In November 2016, the marijuana picture took a dramatic change when voters approved Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). This act authorizes a state regulatory system for recreational marijuana. The AUMA allows the cultivation of 6 plants for personal use per residence. Cities and Counties preserve their ability to regulate.

AUMA also provides for taxation on commercial activity. One of the uses of this “tax money” will be the provision of grants to local agencies to assist in enforcement activity. Cities and Counties that ban commercial activity will not be eligible for these grants.

Governor Brown also signed SB94, a trailer bill which integrated the regulatory system for medical and recreational use. SB94 shifts the responsibility for informing the State of local regulations.

The State anticipates accepting applications for commercial licensing beginning January 1,2018-this is a “start date”, not a deadline.

Earlier this year, the BOS adopted a complete ban on commercial marijuana growing. The Board formed a marijuana working group to gain input and information on how to address the marijuana issue, both commercial and medical.

The BOS is committed to ensuring that any regulations adopted reflect the community goals and visions. This will not be a speedy process, but the more that the community becomes involved in contributing their ideas and viewpoints, the better the end result.

You can assist us by weighing in on the subject. The following is a partial list of questions to be addressed.

  • Should Tuolumne County consider allowing commercial marijuana activities?
  • If so, which types of commercial activities would be appropriate? Cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution, testing and/ or sales?
  • If so, what safeguards should be in place?
  • If so, would you support a tax on commercial activity?
  • Have you been impacted, either positively or negatively in your life or neighborhood
  • What concerns or ideas do you have with regard to marijuana regulation in Tuolumne County?

There is no easy answer and this is not an easy topic. If you have questions or wish to submit comments or participate in the process, you may contact David Gonzalves, the County Community Resource Agency Director. He is the County Point Contact on this topic.                                                   Call (209) 533-5633 or email: dgonzalves@co.tuolumne.ca.us

To meet with me in person to discuss matters of importance to you and others, please feel welcome to meet visit me on the second Tuesday of the month from 8:30 to 10:30 at the Mountain Leisure Center in downtown Groveland. If you wish to meet at a time other than this, please send me an email at jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us or call me at (209) 533-5521 to schedule an appointment.

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

October 2017 Supervisor Article:

It has been quite some time since I have submitted an article to our local papers but I assure you that the delay certainly has not been due to “nothing going on”.

On September 5th the Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved the 2017-2018 Budget. This new budget is approximately $26 million higher than that of 2016-2017 for a total of $205 million. This increase is primarily due to the construction of the new jail, a project 20 years in the making. This project will be accomplished with the majority of the funds coming from the State.

Of great public concern during the budget formulation was the question of whether or not there would be sufficient funds for libraries and for recreation departments to operate. I am happy to report that they are both being fully funded with no anticipated reduction in service.

A copy of this full budget package (i.e. budget memo, attachments, and controller reports and line items details), can be viewed at the following link: http://www.tuolumnecounty.ca./gov/budget. The information will be easy to find.

In August, Tuolumne County in collaboration with its website partner-Civic Plus, completed a “makeover”. Unlike past versions of the County website that emphasized viewing on a traditional computer, the new website is formatted for use with mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets and i-pads. The County utilized statistics to determine which web pages are most frequently viewed and assigned links for quick access to these pages. If a user cannot easily find what they want, the improved site also offers a powerful search mechanism. From flashy new pictures to ease of access, we are hopeful that the website located at: www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov will help residents and visitors alike to access the resources they need.

We have finally received some good news from the State on the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC). As a result of the State’s agreement with the Federal Government on “Process”, it has allowed the BOS to move forward in hiring an architect for the project. The BOS has chosen the firm Lionakis Architecture from the Sacramento area. Now, the real work begins…

We have begun the process of developing a committee structure for the Community Resilience Center. The following committees will be formed:

  • An Advisory Committee to provide a high level of oversight and guidance to the project
  • A Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee that will have the responsibility to ensure that services and programs wanted by the community are conveyed to the architect and to the Advisory Committee.
  • Operational and Stakeholders Advisory Committee which will consist of representatives from various agencies that might partner in providing those services and programs at the Center.

It is planned to hold at least three public meetings to solicit input from the community as to what should be included in the centers. The communities under consideration for a center are the Sonora Area, Tuolumne City and Groveland. Please watch for Public Notices and check the County web page for times and dates. Those communities that show the greatest interest and participation at these meetings will have the best chance in getting a Center located in their area. It is vitally important that you be an active member….Please participate!

As most of our readers are aware, we have embarked on an aggressive tree mortality program along with Cal Fire, Cal Trans and PG&E. So far thousands of trees have been felled yet slash removal has been a major hurdle.

Tuolumne County has awarded a contract to the Greater Valley Conservation Corps (GVCC) to complete job site cleanup. The GVCC hires local youth, ages 18-25, and trains them with job skills to enhance the local community.

Finding a place for the downed timber was a challenge. Tuolumne County created a wood sort yard in Chinese Camp to supply wood from project areas to Pacific Ultrapower for the use of biomass fuel. Pacific Ultrapower is contractually obligated to use specific amounts of wood from high hazard zones. Much of Tuolumne County above 2500 foot elevation is considered “a high hazard” zone. All of our logs go to Pacific Ultrapower.

The Groveland area and Highway 120 will require additional tree work. The staff will be back soon to continue their progress. Even as I write this article, Ferretti Road at Groveland is receiving attention and should be completed by the end of September. There will also be work done on Merrell Road.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cal Trans for completing their planned turnout on New Priest Grade. This project was suggested a number of years ago and they followed through. Additional improvements are planned on the 120 Corridor. The downtown Groveland sidewalks have been approved along with interactive speed signs and cross walk changes. Work is planned to begin in 2018.

Over the past 9 years, it has been my good fortune to work with a great county staff. Our small Tuolumne County is one of the true leaders in our state. This has happened, not just because of BOS vision and work, it happens because of the great staff we have and the work that they do that is above and beyond their normal duties.

A great example of that dedication is reflected in our County Counsel, Sarah Carrillo. Sarah has been appointed to the Board of Directors position with the State County Counsel Association.

This Board oversees the function of the Association which includes all of the continued legal education that the Association puts on each year. The Association is also the legal advisor to the California State Association of Counties and provides services to counties individually on certain projects such as preparing Americus briefs on litigation matters that impact counties statewide.

Additionally, Sarah has been appointed to the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission that evaluates and recommends candidates to the Governor for judicial appointment.

Having our County Counsel in these prominent positions gives Tuolumne County a higher standing in the state decision-making process. It’s very important to have a rural county presence when critical decisions are made.

In closing, I want to say “Thank You” to all of you that offered your support during my recent medical crisis. Your visits, kind words, good wishes and caring actions have contributed greatly to my recovery.

Due to a conflict of schedule activities it is necessary to adjust my Groveland office hours. Moving forward, you are welcome to meet with me on the second Tuesday of the month from 8:30 to 10:30 at the Mountain Leisure Center. If you find it necessary to meet personally at a time other than this, please send me an email at jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us or call me at (209) 533-5521 to schedule an appointment.

Wishing you good health and prosperous days ahead….

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

 

December 2016 Supervisor Article:

As promised, this month’s article is about our Economic Development Authority (TCEDA). Tuolumne County is one of the few rural counties that have seen fit to establish such an authority.

Why is economic development so important to the local economy? In short, it is important and valuable because it brings revenue and jobs to our communities. At its heart, economic development is about building healthy economies in order to have heathy communities.

The Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA) was formed in 2008 when the County of Tuolumne and the City of Sonora partnered to form a Joint-Powers Authority solely focused on economic development. Over the past seven and one-half years the TCEDA has focused on business attraction, business retention and expansion, business start-ups, innovation, workforce development and assistance to neighboring counties through the management of the Central Sierra Economic Development District (CSEDD).

In 2016 we continued to build upon the successes and assisted in mitigating the losses that our community has faced over the decade. Some notable additions to our communities in 2016 were the development and opening of Rush Creek Lodge, and the employment of over one hundred employees, and the recent announcement of Sequoia Home Health and Companion Care’s fifty new jobs to the community. Tuolumne County regained their Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership as TCEDA staff worked closely with Sonora CDJR (Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram) to acquire the former Motherlode Motors.

Continued expansion of local industries helped bring unemployment down as local manufacturers brought on family wage jobs and the increased focus on attraction has brought a number of small business and individuals to our community. Future announcements will include firms who consult on mountain bike (and other outdoor activities) trails and a firm who is now importing one-of-a-kind vehicles that will be shipped all across the United States.

Additional activities have included our farm-to-fork initiatives and the expansion of our ag industries through expansion of their facilities.

Attraction efforts have focused on family wage jobs and TCEDA staff has been busy attending events such as Society3 Investor and Treehouse (Chinatown) Pitch events, Central Valley Hackathon, ReCon/ICSC, Medical Device & Manufacturing Show, Game Developer’s Conference, BioMed Show, Natural Products Expo and Wearables TechCon, just to name a few. Through shows, events and direct contact over 241 recruitment leads have been developed and followed up upon in addition to the 341 who were worked with in 2015.

The InnovationLab has continued to add value to the local community while celebrating its 2nd anniversary in August of 2016. It currently has a number of for-profit and not-profit organizations operating out of it, including the very successful HealthLitNow program, and the InnovationLab is now self-supporting. Early in 2016 the InnovationLab held its first ever “Innovation Challenge” in which eight small business owners competed against each other for the top prize. Additional innovation activities such as the Capstone and Captivated Thinking partnerships with UC Merced expands our connections with our higher education partners. UC Davis now has a water testing lab located within the InnovationLab.

2016 marks the year of the expanded partnerships with Columbia College, notably the Hospitality training program, that both Supervisor John Gray and the TCEDA were leaders in to help gear up the next generation of hospitality leaders and workers in Tuolumne County. Columbia College also expanded their InnovationLab facility, focused on Water and Waste Water education.

During the first three quarters of 2016 the TCEDA through its CSEDD management contract have been awarded $50,000 for business development assistance (to be provided by the Alliance Small Business Development Center (Alliance SBDC), SCORE and the TCEDA) for the four counties it serves with a concentration on Calaveras and Tuolumne County.

The CSEDD has also written a $250,000 grant and have been awarded, awaiting final contact, funds to help the CSEDD, primarily Calaveras County, recover from the Butte Fire devastation. This grant will establish a business resiliency center in Calaveras County with locations for a locally-made store, business office drop-in location, dedicated business offices (incubator), small business development assistance, a mini-InnovationLab, and dedicated economic development staff to help rebuild Calaveras County.

In addition, a $250,000 for regional implementation (which the TCEDA/CSEDD is a founding member) of the “AgPlus Implementation Plan” in California’s 28-county Central Valley/Central Sierra region, a designated IMCP area. Implementation of the Plan will help address the high levels of unemployment and poverty in the Central Valley/Central Sierra region, and serve as a catalyst for accelerating the resurgence of advanced manufacturing by creating an environment for businesses to grow and create well-paying manufacturing jobs in the food processing and agricultural industries.

Larry Cope, CEO and Director of Economic Development of TCEDA, is instrumental in the professional leadership of this organization and in the implementation of its programs. For more information please contact Larry at: (209) 989-4058.

In conclusion, we want to wish each of you a memorable holiday season and continued prosperity & success in the months ahead.

No office hours in December. But, if you’d like to meet or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or email: JGray@co.tuolumne.ca.us

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

 

November 2016 Supervisor Article

In my last article I wrote that I would highlight Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority this month. Recently some topics have come up that I think require attention and I’ll do my best to address them now with TCEDA to be the primary topic next month.

Considerable discussion has come up on local Social Media focused around raising the speed limit on Ferretti Road. Many contributors were of the opinion that the public should be the decision makers.

If only it was that simple. Rules and regulations apply and there is a “process” that must be followed.

The process:

The California State Legislature adopts the regulations for California speed limits and those limits are enforced through provisions in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). The State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has defined the method that is used to establish speed limits. That process requires the preparation of an Engineering and Traffic Study. (E&TS)

Pursuant to Caltrans’ regulations, speed limit determinations rely on the premise that a reasonable speed limit is one that conforms to the actual behavior of the majority of drivers. The speed limit is determined to be both reasonable and effective by measuring drivers’ speed. Speed limits set by an E&TS are normally set at or near the 85th percentile speed- which is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the traffic is moving.

As required by the CVC, an E&TS must be performed at least every 10 years. Several roads in Tuolumne County, including Ferretti Road, required new E&TS to meet the 10 year deadline. Of the 19 roadways under the County’s jurisdiction classified as “arterial or collectors”, speed changes were recommended on 12 by K.D. Anderson and Associates, a traffic engineering consultant retained for the study in 2015.

Because of concerns expressed, I requested Staff to have the traffic engineering consultant perform an additional review on a couple of roads, including Ferretti Road.

The consultant determined that the existing 25 mph and 35 mph speed limits can be maintained on all of the road except the portion from Cottonwood to Peters Ranch Road (approximately 4 miles). This portion of the road currently has a speed limit of 35 mph which should be increased to 40 mph in accordance with speed study regulations.

The average speed for the 85 percentile of the vehicles on the portion of Ferretti Road to Peters ranch Road was measured at 44 mph. Under the regulations for speed studies this speed can be rounded down to 40 mph but cannot be reduced to a lower speed. If the speed limit is not changed to reflect the speed study, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) cannot use radar to enforce the speed limit. As you can see, there not a great deal of wiggle room for the County if we want the CHP to be able to enforce the limits and write tickets. The final decision on Ferretti Road will be made by the Board of Supervisors at the November 15th meeting.

Another topic that constantly comes up is the problem of misguided traffic on Old Priest Grade. On September 13th, I met with County Staff, County Transportation Staff, District 10 Director of Caltrans- Dennis Agar- and his staff and Highway Patrol Officials at Priest Station to present our concerns and show “first-hand” the problems that exist. (Caltrans has had a great deal of turn-over recently and the people that had originally agreed to champion the needed improvements have “moved on”).

Let me say that the traveling public did not disappoint us!

We had right turns from New Priest Grade to Old Priest Grade and left turns from Old Priest Grade to New Priest Grade with the same cars going in circles over and over again until they left in frustration. There were several near misses at the intersection as well… Dennis Agar the Caltrans Director was puzzling over whether we had staged this just for him to witness.

We received confirmation from Caltrans that an action plan to help improve the situation was underway.

Among those items in the action plan; (1) place additional signage at the top of the grade and to relocate the Oversized Vehicle Sign and Truck Weight Max Sign, (2) install new directional signage and to change the color of the wording on the Old Priest Grade Road sign. 3) additional letters will be sent by TCTC to various map companies such as Google Maps, Yahoo MapQuest and others to adjust their driving instructions-Caltrans will send supporting letters to these same companies (4) with Caltrans, we are attempting to inform the trucking industry and RV rental companies of the challenges and restrictions along Old Priest Grade and SR 120 at this location (5) TCTC and Caltrans will investigate the possibility of improvement to the intersection (6) TCTC will confirm in the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) an ultimate improvement project is planned for the intersection of Old Priest Grade and SR 120 to improve stopping sight distance by removing a portion of the cut slope, realign and level the intersection; and add a left turn pocket on Old Priest Grade.

Working together we hope to accomplish these goals and make the drive to and from our area a much better experience for visitors and residents alike.

On October 8th I spent a warm and sunny celebration at the Octoberfest event at the Lake Don Pedro hacienda. Great food, new and old friends visiting and answering a few questions about local government. This fine event was well received by residents and visitors and I was happy to be part of it and looking forward to next year!

We have another day of celebration coming our way. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I want to wish you pleasant times with friends and family as you reflect on good things past and those still to come.

Office hours in Groveland will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the 2nd Monday of the month. Please stop by and visit, appointments are always best but not required. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you’d like to meet in person, please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or email:
jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

Sept 2016

In this article and in other future articles, I intend to highlight the various joint powers associations (JPA), committees and boards that are under the added responsibility of your County Board of Supervisors.

This month will focus on the Tuolumne County Transportation Council. (TCTC) As with anything that has been around for years, the history is a little complicated with updates, modifications, name changes and revisions in responsibilities…

So, just what is the TCTC and where did it come from?

The council was first formed in December 1967. It is a JPA between the City of Sonora and the County of Tuolumne which was created under the name of the Tuolumne County and City Area Planning Council (TCCAPC), an independent agency with the capabilities of dealing with Countywide Transportation needs and concerns. In July 1972, the Tuolumne County Cities and Planning Council was designated as the transportation planning agency for the County by the State.

This transportation planning agency continued on for more than 35 years. However, in September of 2003, the original joint powers agreement was superseded by a new JPA. The 2003 agreement established the duties and powers of the new entity, to succeed the power and function of the TCCAPC, and the name of the TCCAPC was changed to the Tuolumne County Transportation Council (TCTC).

In August 2011, the City and County adopted a further revised JPA which removed the public transportation systems responsibilities from TCTC, and created the Tuolumne County Transit Agency to oversee the operations and management of the public transportation systems. Membership of the TCTA is the same as the TCTC.

The TCTC is comprised of two members of the Board of Supervisors and appointed by the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, two members of the Sonora City Council appointed by the Sonora City Council and a citizen member at large voted in by the majority of the four elected official TCTC members. I have served on the TCTC since 2010.

TCTC Purpose.

To provide a forum for discussion and study of countywide transportation of mutual interest to the member agencies.

  1. To identify inventory and comprehensive plans for the solution to regional transportation problems requiring multi-government cooperation.
  2. To facilitate actions and agreements among the member agency units for special project development.
  3. To act as the leading planning, programing monitoring, and administrative agency for transportation projects and programs in Tuolumne County.
  4. Take action as necessary to qualify local transportations projects and programs for funding.

The TCTC is responsible for bringing many millions of dollars into our county for transportation needs. The State Highway improvement projects-like the Sonora Bypass-are a result of collaboration efforts.

TCTC is presently working a new Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The Regional Transportation Plan serves as the planning blueprint to guide future transportation investments in Tuolumne County involving local, state, and federal funding over the next twenty-five years. It is an important component to the health of any community that strives to be forwarded thinking and a necessary element in preparation for the future.

A required part of the RTP is to gather public input into the planning process. The public participation plan is the most important part of the development of a workable RTP. A schedule of public meetings can be found on TCTC website at: Tuolumnecountytransportationcouncil.org.

TCTC meetings are televised and posted on YouTube. I would encourage everyone to take a look so that you will be informed on transportation issues. Of any of the JPA and committees on which I serve as a member, the TCTC is the most time consuming. (Something they don’t tell you about before you are elected!)

I hope that you will find this county committee information of interest. Often your elected officials toss around abbreviations that they may use in the everyday work of the county but they may not mean a thing to you. I think that it is especially important that you know who is working on your behalf, what they are called, how they came into existence and how they are run. This information will help you to recognize and understand the functions of the councils, committees and groups that work in the trenches of County Government.

You will find the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority, Tuolumne County Visitor’s Bureau, Sheriff, CSU and Yosemite Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce all in the same building at Mountain Leisure Center in downtown Groveland. My office hours in this new location will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the second Monday of the month. Please stop by and visit, appointments are always best but not required. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you’d like to meet in person, please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or by email me at: jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us
John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

August, 2016

First I would like to thank all of you that supported and elected me to serve a third term as your Fourth District County Supervisor. I will continue to represent the people of the Fourth District and Tuolumne County, as a full-time working Supervisor.

When I ran for office eight years ago, I knew that it was going to be a complicated task to institute positive changes designed to improve the way our county provides essential services but I truly underestimated the difficulties. Although we have seen success in this area we still have a long way to go to meet my expectations and those of the residents of our beautiful County.

If you have followed my articles over the past months, you will see that I have written about some of the many challenges a County Government faces. I am always looking for ways to introduce ideas that provide good government. Part of what good government means is that government should be transparent and do its best to serve the will of the people. In order to accomplish this, elected officials must find a way to provide information to their constituents. Because communication is not always immediate or widely publicized, politicians are often criticized for not informing the public on what is going on in their local districts.

During our Board of Supervisors retreat, all current Supervisors talked about the frustration dealing with complaints in this regard. The common thread was that answers to a problem might have been available if someone had just brought the question to their attention. Those of you that know me understand that if I am made aware of a problem I will address it and do my best to get it resolved.

One of our Supervisors made the comment that we need to be trained to read minds in order to answer questions that have gone unasked. Each Supervisor represents a little more than 10,000 people. The sheer number makes it impossible to give personal service to each one on a daily basis.

To do my job better, I need your help. One way is by being proactive on your end. Many answers can be found by attending the Board of Supervisors meetings, reviewing the County web page and by reading the local daily newspaper which is always full of timely events and local business and development news. Want to know about something in particular? Contact me. I may not have all the answers but I will certainly seek them out and I may not be able to resolve every problem, but I will make an effort to do so.

County Supervisors are not in charge of every aspect of County Government, although the title might imply that. We have financial oversight of the County Budget, ordinance rule making, land use decisions, hire the CAO and County Counsel, but that is where the direct authority stops. Departments such as that of the District Attorney, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, County Clerk-Auditor, Sheriff and Courts fall under the responsibility of other elected officials. As a Supervisor I can point you in the right direction to help with issues related to those departments but Supervisors do not have the final say.

Many of you may be getting emails from me concerning matters and events that I feel may be of interest. The email distribution list is a work in progress. If you do receive them and want to be removed from the mailing, let me know. If you’d like to be added please send me an email and you will be included.

I have answered a number of constituents’ questions on the National Disaster Resilience Competition Grant (NDRC). Right now it looks like we should have a fully executed agreement in December, 2016. There is a detailed schedule of the Grant process on the County web page that provides additional information.

We have received correspondence from Caltrans on three projects on Highway 120 that are “in the works”.

  1. New signage for the Old Grade is in consideration. The County Board of Supervisors has approved money to pay for the sign. Caltrans is responsible for the installation.
  2. Right–of-way is being secured to extend the walkway from Mary Laveroni Park to the monument across from the Groveland Hotel.
  3. Funds have been approved for the construction of three turnouts and additional safety work on New Priest Grade.

It is impossible due to space constraints to give an update on all projects that are in process in Tuolumne County in a monthly article. If you will contact me on a specific issue, I again, will do what I can to get updated information to you.

In closing, I want you to know that our new offices at Mountain Leisure Center are now open. You will find the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority, Tuolumne County Visitor’s Bureau, Sheriff, CSU and Yosemite Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce all in the same building. My office hours there will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the second Monday of the month with the exception of August, 2016. Please stop by and visit, appointments are always best but not required. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you’d like to meet in person, please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or by email me at: jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us
John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

June 2016 Supervisor article

It’s election time again and I’ve spent the past several days and weeks participating in public forums and at speaking engagements. Incumbents talk about what they have done to improve government and new candidates talk about how everything has been mishandled and mismanaged and how they can do a much better job.

Public service requires that its representatives have the willingness to devote the time it takes to serve the public. Being a County Supervisor is a full time job and a full time commitment. Without the commitment the public is not adequately served.

During the forums candidates are questioned as to how they intend to solve a multitude of problems so as to insure that everyone in Tuolumne County can have a “happier” life.

Over the past 7 ½ years I have written many articles that address issues that County Government has been and is currently working on. I have highlighted programs that have been established to benefit the residents of our county.

Topics for my articles are chosen in the hope that I will receive questions, comments and good feedback from the readers. Gratefully, this does happen….but not as much as I’d like.

The first step in leading is to develop a “vision” on where you want your organization to go and then to develop a plan to get you there. When I entered my first term in office there was not a clear vision for the County to follow. I have mentioned previously about the process that the board followed to create Tuolumne County’s “vision” which is defined as “the ability to assure that Tuolumne County is a place where all citizens enjoy

opportunities to thrive in a safe, healthy and productive environment.” It is my job and that of my fellow board members to lead our county responsibly to fulfill that vision.

In order to move forward and solve the problems that stall progress, we need your help.Have questions about county issues? Contact me. Want a personal one-on-one meeting? Contact me. Is it a complicated matter? Contact me and I will arrange for County staff to meet with us.

There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing what we haven’t done or what was done wrong when no one even told us of a problem. You might not always get the answer or the result that you want but it will certainly not be due to lack of effort on our part.

Following is an excerpt from California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Director Matt Cate’s in reaction to the Governor’s May Budget Revision. These comments address areas of interest from my previous articles.

“Given the volatile nature of state revenue and the duration of the economic recovery, we understand the Governor’s emphasis on fiscal prudence. California Counties agree that, as the Governor has said, managing budgets is “like riding a tiger”. The Governor is striking a difficult balance between current needs and preparing for the inevitable economic downturn.

We applaud the Governor for making housing and programs for the homeless a priority. These are complex issues and there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, but we have to find ways to provide people with homes, training, treatment and other services to get them off the streets. As always, California counties plan to work closely with the Governor and the legislature to maximize this effort.

California counties are extremely pleased that the Governor recognizes tree mortality as a significant risk to people, infrastructure and the environment. There are more than 29 million dead trees in our forest, and more are going to die due to the drought and bark beetles. The Governor proposed spending $150 million in cap-and-trade funds on forest health and tree mortality in his January budget. The May Revision contains an additional $11 million that will help remove trees in the most impacted communities, and makes $39 million more available in disaster assistance grants which could be used to assist counties with tree mortality.

In addition, we are pleased that the Governor has continued to place a high priority on transportation funding. Local streets, roads, and bridges are in dismal condition—as are many state highways. The May Revision continues to reflect the Governor’s January transportation funding and reform proposal which will generate $36 billion over the next ten years to help make critical repairs to our infrastructure. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature on legislation that includes new spending on roads, coupled with accountability, streamlining and reforms.”

Tuolumne County is still awaiting the final notification on the National Disaster Resiliency Competition Application (NDRC). We do know that the State has been informed that Tuolumne County has been awarded $70 million dollars for projects in our county. We have sent letters to the State requesting more details. Tuolumne County will be receiving these funds because of our ability to work in collaboration with State and Federal Government agencies.

Hats off to County Staff and my fellow supervisors. Working as a team and partnering through the process has brought us great success.

Recent concerns have been expressed by local residents and businesses regarding the scheduled work on the Highway120 Bridge. Please remember that the long needed repairs will be made in the evening hours when there is less traffic. Late travelers will be redirected-which will add a few miles to their trip-but still brings them to Groveland and Yosemite National Park.

In closing I want to remind you that an enormous amount of information is “at your finger-tips” when you visit the Tuolumne County web page. Take a look!

As always I welcome your calls, emails and letters. Office hours in Groveland are held at the Groveland Youth Center from 9 am to 11 am on the 2nd Monday of the month (Our new location is working to meet ADA requirements) Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you’d like to meet in person, please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or by emailing me at: jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

May 2016 Supervisor article

Memory Lane….

When I took office in 2008 I really thought that the economic downturn was just going to be a little “blip” on the radar. It would pass quickly and we would be back to normal…so much for my crystal ball.

Like all rural counties, we struggled to maintain and fund essential services, such as fire and law enforcement. County staff was reduced by over 500 hardworking people, wages of all employees were reduced and vacant positions were not filled. All of this was done to balance the budget. It was the “right thing” to do as well as required (by law).

If you have run a business you’ll probably agree that a difficult part of the job comes when you have to make the hard decision to give a good employee his or her last check. One of the most important things that I believe is that all Supervisors must realize is that every decision made can have a profound effect on people’s lives. And, I have to say that every Supervisor that I have worked with over the years either understood the seriousness of the job in the very beginning of their term or a short time into it.

Sometimes I’ve made negative comments in my articles about the State or Federal Government not “doing enough”. Eleda will nudge me and say “Look at the good side a little more, something positive can come from this”. I whole heartedly agree that it’s time to focus on the “positives”.
Those who know me understand that I truly want the best for the people of the County. I have devoted my energies to stave off calamities and bolstered the efforts of those who want to apply their talents to improve upon the good things and energize the area.

We may not have seen a full recovery but some very good things have happened. With the aid of my fellow Supervisors, County Staff and Community Partners, we have accomplished a tremendous number of positive improvements in our county. These accomplishments have not only made it a better place to live but have also created jobs.

With the help of former Supervisor, Mark Thornton, we were able to dedicate a new Youth Center in Groveland. Speaking of Mr. Thornton, I feel that I should mention that Mark has authored a well written book that you may want to read. It focuses on the History of the Groveland Community Services District. For those new to our area, this book does a great job of describing Groveland’s history and the struggles to find a consistent identity. Some of the same struggles we face today.You may have noticed a considerable amount of tree work taking place in and around our communities. Public agencies and private property owners alike are to be commended for proactive removal of dead and dying trees. The need to stall the progression of tree mortality has prompted this undertaking.In Groveland, one example of a job well done is that of the Cassaretto property on the north side of Highway 120 in town. Once the affected trees were removed the grounds were graded and groomed creating an attractive hillside setting. Good Job Leonard! Other property owners are following the same path and what could have been considered an eyesore has resulted in an eye-catching scene as evidenced on the Hetchy property next to 2 Guys Pizza.

Removal of the dead trees exposed a portion of the Hetchy Railroad. For many years this was the home of one of the last cabooses of The Railroad.As I often do, I have wandered a little from where I wanted to go with this article so getting back on track (no pun intended)…
There is always the question “What improvements have we seen in the South County and the 4th District”? Following is a brief description of some, but not all, of the collaborative work that has been accomplished.

  • Road repaving and placing of additional guard rail on Old Priest Grade.
  • Installation of lighting at the J59 intersection and the repaving of J59.
  • Bridge replacement on Evergreen Road.
  • We have received $13 Million dollars to rebuild Evergreen Road.
  • We have helped with grant funding for the Evergreen Lodge and Rush Creek Lodge. Once completed, Rush Creek will provide 100 new jobs for our community.
  • Resurfacing of the Tuolumne Highway, Woodhams Carne Road and Lime Kiln Road
  • The $66 Million dollar Sonora Bypass project is nearly completed. It is a state project but it took the cooperation of the County and of Tuolumne County Transit Authority (TCTC) to make it happen.
  • Additional lighting in Mary Lavaroni Park installed in partnership with GCSD.
  • Assisted the district, through the grant application, for the new treatment plant
  • Tuolumne County Power Agency has helped with funding for GCSD aeration equipment.
  • Assisted GCSD with the Cal Fire Contract
  • New period-style street lights in Groveland with the help of Yosemite 120 Chamber of Commerce and especially James Nagle who worked tirelessly to see the project completed after 1 ½ years “in the works”.
  • New street striping done by Caltrans to provide a safer walking path in downtown Groveland. GAP and TCTC were major players in this project.
  • A YARTS bus route from Sonora to Yosemite funded through a partnership with Yosemite National Park, TCTC and YARTS at no cost to the county.
  • The county has been awarded nearly $70 Million dollar in a grant from the National Disaster Resiliency Competition following a lengthy application process after the 2013 Rim Fire. *note: at this time, it is unknown how much will be directed to the 4th district but we know that a portion will come our way.
  • Assisted the Lake Don Pedro Service District in acquiring funds for emergency water supply
  • We have secured nearly $50 Million dollars in grants to build our new jail and $20 Million dollars to build the Juvenile Detention Center. These projects are both in the 4th
  • It is estimated that by the time that 2016 comes to an end, the County will have participated in gathering about $250 Million dollars in grant money.. The majority of that money will be spent in the 4th

I could go on and on but I think that you can see from my points that we have gone from a very “dark place” to finally seeing a little daylight at the end of the tunnel. It is only right to highlight those positives.
We could not have done this without the support and assistance of our community partners, a committed County Staff and Supervisors that are willing to work together. No one supervisor can do the job alone. It takes cooperation, the willingness to compromise, the ability to work with others and most importantly, patience and the realization that not everything always goes as planned.

As always I welcome your calls, emails and letters. Office hours in Groveland are held at the Groveland Youth Center from 9 am to 11 am on the 2nd Monday of the month until our new location is ready. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you need to meet with me in person, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or by email me at:
jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

 

March 2016 Supervisor article

I had hoped to be writing about the National Disaster Resilience Competition this month but as the deadline for article submittals approached we still have not been told where the approved projects are going to be built. Without this information available I have decided to address another important subject, Economic Development.

For the past six years I have served on the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA) Board and as Board Chairman for the last two years. During this time I have spent countless hours in research and attending meetings to get a better understanding of economic development.

Merely eight years ago Tuolumne County entered one of the worst economic downturns it has seen in history. Looking back, it may have been one of the most challenging times to be elected to public office. We took a few lumps, but in the big scheme of things we have managed to survive well.

Some of those economic challenges are in the expectations of residents who desire to see changes come about in the area of commerce. If you read the “letters to the editor section” in the local newspaper you often find letters requesting businesses with such recognizable names as Trader Joes, Target or In & Out Burger to come to the area.

Letters also appear that criticize big box stores or other types of business that could hurt mom and pop enterprises. When any new business is opened other businesses could be threatened.

It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between what is wanted in relationship to what is needed and the underlying profile that sets the basis for economic development can be overlooked. The simple fact is that unless we have adequate growth in jobs and population, the County will not be able to cover the escalating costs of providing services.

Those recognizable business names mentioned earlier research and project for new store openings in communities whose population can support their potential for success.

We will not attract those businesses unless we can grow.

Economic development affects many aspects of our wish list, from maintaining roads to providing the best in public safety and services. No matter how efficient we are in spending existing tax dollars we cannot get better unless we can improve and develop economically.

Larry Cope, director of the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA) reminds us that every city and county in the United States is scrambling to improve their own situation. In a competitive environment fundamental actions must be taken to support existing businesses and to attract new ones.

So how does Larry go about his job? He goes fishing! The test is in knowing what you’re fishing for and to have the right bait. He is not going to direct all of his efforts toward population based business entities.

Fishing? So, what do we want to attract? Light manufacturing that provides jobs; retail businesses that fit our population base and education providers that will educate and train for our workforce.

Bait? What is most highly promoted is the beauty of our area, the proximity to an abundance of outdoor recreation and the historical nature of our communities.

This philosophy supports the TCEDA motto “Work Where You Play”!

The following are just two examples of what businesses may consider when exploring growth into rural areas. With food and retail such as Trader Joes, Target, Best Buy, In & Out Burger and others, it is a population base with enough buyers to make a profit. With industry it can be the need for sufficient and available experienced workforce to manufacture materials that result in a finished component or product.

So what does Larry and the TCEDA do? The following are a few examples:

  1. Outreach – we talk about and try and sell Tuolumne County to let them know what a great place it is to work and go out your back door to play.
  2. Wave the Flag – by attending industry conferences and trade shows and developing relationships with business people outside the community.
  3. Playing the long game. It takes time for businesses to develop and make long-range plans. We continue to follow up with those that have expressed a possibility to move their business.
  4. Develop a solid work plan that defines the direction and vision for economic development. Please visit the TCEDA website at: www.tceda.net.. You will find information about the Authority and Tuolumne County and the reasons we feel our County is such a great place to live, work and grow your business.

Let me close this month’s article by recognizing the loss of two very important individuals that have contributed so much to our community over the years.

Kay Glaves, the Purple Lady, worked tirelessly promoting community events, the Lyons Club and any fund-raiser known to man. From dressing up at each holiday and wrapping the downtown in candy striped foil at Christmas, to selling tickets for every possible event-she was a force to be reckoned with. No one could say “no” to Kay.

Peggy Mosely, owner of the Groveland Hotel, has been a very visible force in the promotion of our community around the world. Serving in many different positions on the various committees & boards that support tourism, hospitality and the lodging industry, Peggy was one of the first to navigate international waters through the internet to bring visitors to our area.

Both Kay and Peggy gave their best efforts in making Groveland a great place to live and work and both will be sorely missed.

As always I welcome your calls, emails and letters. If you need assistance please remember that office hours in Groveland are presently held at the Groveland Youth Center from 9 am to 11 am on the 2nd Monday of the month until we have moved into our new location in the Mountain Leisure Center across from the post office. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you need to meet with me in person, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or by email me at: “Supervisor John Gray”

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

February 2016  Supervisor John Gray’s article

Recently I received a letter asking me to respond to a couple of questions about county government. I offered to have a one on one meeting to go over this person’s concerns but for a number of reasons we have not yet had the opportunity to get together for the discussion. I have addressed these same questions at other times but because they continue to come up it is a good time to revisit them again.

The first question has to deal with Tuolumne County Transit. (TCTC). This was more of a comment than a question regarding a statement I made TCTC operating costs. I stated that operation costs and the bottom line would improve by increasing the ridership on the county bus system. The writer countered that we also improve by purchasing less expensive buses.

To respond, it is important to know that the Tuolumne County Transit Authority and the Tuolumne County Authority (TCTA) are NOT County departments and their activities are Not funded through the General Fund. They are each Joint Powers Authority (JPA) made up of 2 members of the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors (BOS), 2 members of the Sonora City Council and 1 member of the public. Funding for this authority is derived from a portion of gas taxes collected and grants from the State and Federal Government. The JPA has been very successful in bringing funds to the County for State Highway projects, County Road projects and transit bus purchases. In the six years that I have served on the JPA, nearly $70 million, related to State and local projects, has been secured for road improvements.

Now to the bus purchase question.. Because of the source of these funds, there are specific guidelines that must be followed. The buses must meet Federal Design/ ADA standards; buying American-made is required and factory assembly line inspections during construction must be made which contributes to the $80,000 to $185,000 cost of each vehicle. The Transit Agency works to reduce the cost of buses by participating in a statewide bid. This group purchase allows dozens of transit agencies to bid out hundreds of buses at one time to get the best volume discount possible.

In making bus purchase decisions the Transit Agency generally sizes buses, 15 to 30 passenger seats, to accommodate peak ridership for each route. Buses must be sized for ridership trends. A recent review shows an average 50% and maximum 77% peak seating utilization on fixed route buses. Ridership is affected by population levels, fuel prices and the local economy. Having some reserve seating capacity on the buses is prudent. It should be further noted that the less costly small buses typically have a service life of about 240,000 miles while the more costly larger buses are constructed on truck chassis that are expected to last up to 400,000 miles.

The second question posed is “what happens to the $7 per vehicle fee collected on vehicle registration in Tuolumne County”?

Money in this fund is generally spent in full annually in the following manner.

  • $1 is for fingerprinting (Jail budget) about $57,000 a year
  • $1 for auto theft (DA budget) about $57,000 a year
  • $1 for abandoned vehicle (Sheriff budget) about $57,000 a year
  • $4 for air pollution (Air pollution budget) about $225,000 per year but does vary depending on project. If funds are not used, they are deferred to the following year. These are the funds used to replace vehicles in public works that do not meet Air Quality Standards. As an example, last year the county purchased 3 new snow plows that replaced equipment that was manufactured in the 1960’s. In prior years, road graders were also purchased with these funds and in all cases the replaced equipment did not meet air quality standards.

The third and final question, what happens to my tax dollar and where is it spent? A brief breakdown is shown below.

  • The County of Tuolumne receives 26.3%
  • City of Sonora 1.1%
  • Fire Districts 3.6%
  • School Districts 63.8% and
  • Special Districts 5.25%

As you can see, Tuolumne County has control of just 23.6%. Of those funds kept by the county, the BOS has designated public safety and roads as top priority items. Approximately 35% goes to public safety-fire, sheriff, jail and another 9.7% goes to roads, the remaining funds are used to run the county and all of its departments.

Some have asked “why do we have to pay for a Sheriff’s department as we don’t have to use it, why do we have to pay for a jail as we’ve never been in jail, why do we have to pay for maintaining all of the 660 miles of county roads because I only drive on some of them and why pay for schools-I don’t have any kids in school”? The reality is that there is a cost to provide services to people…all of the people. We might not use all of the services ourselves but we can’t cherry pick and support only those we like.

In closing, it may be necessary to discontinue writing articles for a while due to rules associated with election practices. I have filed the necessary signatures to allow me to run for another term. I have truly enjoyed the challenges presented while representing the 4th District and I hope to continue on your behalf. As with any political position you seldom make everyone happy-if that is even possible… But, you have my pledge to continue working to make Tuolumne County a great place to live!

As always I welcome your calls, emails and letters. If you need assistance please remember that office hours in Groveland are presently held at the Groveland Youth Center from 9 am to 11 am on the 2nd Monday of the month until we have moved into our new location in the Mountain Leisure Center across from the post office. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you need to meet with me in person, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or by email me at: jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

January 2016 Supervisor article

A long sigh and quick breath after the busy holiday season.. Ahhh!. Hope yours was   pleasant and eventful and that you are looking forward to the New Year.

Just for kicks I took a quick look at my January 2015 article just to make sure that I didn’t address too many of the same issues this month as I had last year. But, quite frankly, some topics are as relevant today as they were a year ago

Last year I explained the general plan process. Now, the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been completed. In January community meetings will be scheduled in Groveland and Sonora so that you can give input and have your questions answered. The draft EIR can be found on the County website in the Community Resources section.

Tuolumne County has continued to declare a State of Emergency due to the drought. Last year I explained the program that was being developed to help those that experienced dry wells. To date, the County has assisted over 300 families in providing emergency water.

I also made a positive comment about the early storm that we had experienced and how promising it looked on the wet weather front. The spring and summer proved disappointing in that regard and we are now all waiting for “El Nino” or his little brother to pay us a visit and improve our conditions.

At the most recent town hall meeting, Sheriff Jim Mele highlighted some of the reasons that he thought the crime rate in the County has shown an increase. He mentioned the voter approved Proposition 47 as one possible contributing factor. Town hall meetings are great and depending upon the topic some are better attended than others. I like to have them held in our community but unfortunately, the information that comes to and from these meetings does not always reach as broad an audience as in newspapers, radio or the web.

I would like to give a brief review of what the Sheriff mentioned and a little more information about Proposition 47.

On November 4, 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, which reduced specific felonies to misdemeanors, including simple possession of most drugs for personal use and stealing/ theft of items worth less than $950. The State savings from reducing incarceration rates was supposed to be used to support truancy prevention, mental health and substance abuse treatment and victim services. The position provided that 65 percent of those savings will go to the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) which will then allocate the funds as grants for rehabilitation programs, mental health and substance abuse treatment for offenders. All really good ideas but none of the funds have come our way.

There is still “a promise” but in reality what has happened is that as of July 1, 2015, trial courts had received over 160,000 petitions/applications for either resentencing or reclassification. As of November 4, 2015, approximately 4,500 inmates have been released from State prisons under Proposition 47; and 3,100 have been released from State parole supervision.

As the Sheriff said, “not good news for the County that already has a full jail”. As I am not an expert in the field of law interpretation you are invited to investigate this topic further on the State of California governmental website… and google Proposition 47. The file is Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. A well-meaning title but so far the results have not held up. The BSCC would like your opinion on how to manage Proposition 47; you can contact them at http:www.bscc.ca.gov

On the positive side, at the December 17th BOS meeting, the Board agreed to continue with the planned basic design of our new jail. The design incorporates the efficiencies that will allow the sheriff and his staff to have a facility that will meet our needs now and many years into the future. Although the construction estimates have increased by approximately $3M dollars, implementing alternative designs now- to save money in construction- would only increase the overall operation costs in the long run. I do want everyone to know that what is being designed is a facility that is not only cost effective but functional.

Also, at this same meeting, the BOS approved a strategy to develop a plan help with the tree mortality problem. This plan should be completed in late January or early February.

Please continue to follow what is happening in our county government by looking at Tuolumne County’s web page. It is there that you will be able to find the most up-to-date information on many subjects. There is a lot of positive work being done by your county government.

As always I welcome your calls, emails and letters. If you need assistance please remember that office hours in Groveland are presently held at the Groveland Youth Center from 9 am to 11 am on the 2nd Monday of the month until we have moved into our new location in the Mountain Leisure Center across from the post office. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you need to meet with me in person, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling 533-5521 or by email me at: jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us

John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

December 2015 Supervisor article.

First, I would like to thank everyone that attended the Town hall Meeting on November 6th at the Groveland Community Hall. For the most part, there was good and respectful dialogue. It would be fair to note that the attendance fully outweighed the seating capacity at the Community Hall. Our last Town Hall meeting less than 6 weeks ago-also well publicized- consisted of several speakers and only a half dozen members of the community. It would appear that recent activity has spurred a renewed interest in community involvement.

Many good questions and comments were brought forward. Understandably, the most important topic on the minds of those in attendance was to gain knowledge into how Law Enforcement issues have been and continue to be addressed in the South County and how residents can contribute to the betterment of our rural community. I believe that the Sheriff did an excellent job of explaining the reason his job has become more difficult and what we can do to help.

By the time you read this, I will have already met with some community members and County Staff to discuss many of the suggestions provided by residents and other professionals. We will try to determine how we can apply those suggestions to improve our community and the county as a whole. A relevant point echoed by many is that there is not “one solution” to the increased crime issue. Law Enforcement is stretched to cover this broad county. Our success will be reflected through the combined efforts of residents, law enforcement, county government and community volunteers.

Community Service Patrol units, PML Safety Patrol, Neighborhood Watch programs and neighbor to neighbor communications are all important factors in discouraging crime when coupled with Sheriff’s Services and Highway Patrol coverage. We know that we have to do better and this meeting was a solemn reminder of the importance of continued co-operation and the need to be vigilant in looking out for one another.

The County Board of Supervisors (BOS) will approve the grant application for the National Disaster Resiliency Competition at the December 1st meeting. We should know by late January if our bid has made it into the final review round for these Grant funds.

Should we be successful, the South County will be a major beneficiary. This grant application provides a request for $37M to construct a Community Resiliency Center (CRC) in Groveland. The center will be designed and built with best practices both in regard to the design and in the operation of the facility. The goal is to create a facility in the community that builds social cohesion and spurs economic stability.

The CRCs would consist of 3 structures. The 1st would be a large multi-purpose type building. This building will include the following: large multi-purpose room with several break-out rooms, restrooms and showers, commercial kitchen and laundry facilities. The 2nd building would be a shelter and pens for animals. This building would have the following; kennels for both dogs and cats; dog runs, bathing areas, refrigerator, counters and plenty of storage; and pens for barn type animals. The 3rd structure will be a covered patio. The covered patio would contain lights for night time operations, electrical outlets and water taps.

On a day to day basis, these centers will provide a variety of services to all resident in the County. The County will partner with a number of State and local agencies, non-profit organizations and community groups to provide services and programs at these facilities. Programs and services that could be provided but are not limited to the following: job training, college courses, senior meal programs; homeless prevention and housing stabilization outreach; Head Start programs; immunization clinics and health presentations; recreational programs; Sheriff’s sub-station and Community Service Unit support; business incubator programs, and rabies clinics for animals.

In an emergency situation, the CRC would be a central point for evacuations for both people and animals. The CRC’s design will incorporate the need to accommodate large influx of people at a time. These facilities will also contain Wi-Fi capabilities and back-up generators. The Groveland CRC will not only serve the Groveland/ Big Oak Flat communities but would also accommodate Mariposa County residents.

At the Groveland CRC, the County will be partnering with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) to construct a crew training facility. CCC employs low-income individuals and at-risk youth to undertake conservation work including ecosystem restoration. The CCC will utilize the Groveland CRC as a staging area for forest and watershed health work proposed in the NDRC application. The facility will contain 16 dorm rooms with 4 beds to a room. This facility will house 40 CCC service members and up to 5 CCC staff and would operate 8 months out of the year.

The County agrees to implement the following:

Assuming commencement of the project as soon as funds awarded.

  • Community Engagement and Confirmation of Facility Design   Jan. – March 2016
  • Hire Architect and Finalize Plans and Specifications                      Jan. – August 2016
  • Environmental Review Process                                                                 Aug. –December 2016
  • Plan Review, Permits Obtained, and Bid Project                               Dec. – March 2017
  • Construction of Facilities                                                                             March – October 2017
  • Purchase and Install Equipment                                                               Oct. – November 2017
  • Open for Operation                                                                                         December 2017

It is estimated that these projects will take a total of 24 months to complete.

(Note that the original proposed budget may be adjusted should HUD award less than the amount requested in the application.)

In previous articles I have mentioned the Innovation Lab (ILab) that is housed at the Old Tuolumne General Hospital in Sonora sponsored by the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority. One program under the TCEDA sponsorship at this time is “Health Lit Now”. This program is a benefit to our youth and is the brainchild of our TCEDA board member/ director, Barry Hillman, Ph.D. and former County Health Director, Dr.Todd Stolp.

The following has been provided by Dr. Hillman as an introduction to the program.

“Health Lit Now– Exploratorium of Healthcare Career Workshops for Tuolumne County Students Grades 7-9.

Healthcare offers the fastest growing career opportunities in Tuolumne County and the surrounding region. When most kids think of healthcare careers they think of doctors and nurses yet only about 250 of the nearly 1400 people employed at Sonora Regional Medical Center, our largest single private employer, are doctors and nurses. The Healthcare Career Workshops developed by HealthLitNow (HLN) with support from The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), Tuolumne County Behavioral Health (TCBH), the Sonora Area Foundation (SAF), the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority (TCEDA) and the Tuolumne County Innovation Lab (ILAB) are designed to provide Tuolumne County students an opportunity to learn more about the vast array of healthcare employment opportunities available and the training necessary to qualify for a healthcare career of interest.

The workshops are composed of eight engaging, non-didactic, NGSS focused stations that address multiple healthcare career opportunities. The stations include: Neuroscience, Heart and Circulatory System, Pulmonary System, Diet, Sensory, and Robotics. The workshop stations will be presented by former and exiting healthcare professionals as well as retired Tuolumne County teachers. Students will leave with a basic understanding of the vast array of healthcare careers available and a better understanding of the academic course work necessary to pursue different careers. These workshops are designed to help teachers meet an additional element of NGSS orientation, with specific science standards identified for each station. Each workshop can be adjusted to the time and physical constraints of each participating school such that a close partnership with each school is a welcome component of the project.

To date, more than 400 kids have participated in the workshops. It is estimated that approximately 1100 Tuolumne County students will have experienced the workshops by the end of March 2016. This is the result of community volunteer presenters consisting of healthcare and education professionals both retired as well as those currently practicing throughout our community.

HLN is also offering a full day Heath Career Workshop on April 23, 2016 at the ILAB for those students who wish to learn more about specific healthcare career opportunities. This workshop will be led by healthcare professionals and offer students an in-depth look at various careers as well as the opportunity to arrange a job shadow. In addition, we anticipate offering scholarship funding opportunities for those students who may wish to pursue a career in healthcare and meet certain minimum academic criteria.”

Please feel welcome to inquire further regarding this excellent program by contacting

Barry A. Hillman Ph.D., President HealthLitNow (209) 601-9888 or barry@healthlitnow.org.

Our next article, in January 2016, will reflect on some of the County and South County goals attained and some that are still in the works from the 2015 “to do” list.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a memorable holiday season and to thank you for your continued support in seeking to maintain and improve the quality lifestyle that we, in the small rural communities and counties, enjoy.

As always I welcome your calls, emails and letters. If you need assistance please remember that office hours in Groveland are presently held at the Groveland Youth Center from 9 am to 11 am on the 2nd Monday of the month. I am hopeful that by December we will have the new office open in the Mountain Leisure Center across from the post office. Lake Don Pedro is “by appointment”. If you need to meet with me in person, please do not hesitate to contact me. Phone me by calling 533-5521 or email me at: jgray@co.tuolumne.ca.us     John Gray, Tuolumne County 4th District Supervisor

 

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Supervisor John Gray’s previous articles.

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