2009 brings changes
Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series looking back at 2009.
There were numerous changes at city hall last year, including the loss of the city manager, cutbacks in staffing and hours. The city council also continued to grapple with updating the city’s aging sewer system.
The 50-year-old Interstate 80 got a facelift and one local business received a bit of national recognition.
Here’s the second half of the top stories of 2009. Again, the selections were made based on public interest.
• Changes at City Hall: Colfax City Manager Joan Phillipe agreed to step down on July 28. Hired in September 2006, Phillipe’s three-year contract was set to expire on Sept. 15.
The council had decided in March not to renew her contract, which guaranteed a salary of $92,000 per year. Instead, the council had discussed pay reductions for Phillipe and other city employees as one of several options for closing an approximately $200,000 gap in the 2009-10 fiscal year budget.
Former Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz stepped in as interim city manager and was hired as the city manager in November. He is being paid $75,000 a year .
In September, then interim city manager Kranz announced that former Colfax building official Gabe Armstrong was chosen for the new position of community services director. The job merges two positions that were eliminated to balance the budget — public works director and Armstrong’s prior position.
Council members also presented a plaque recognizing David Woodford, the exiting public works director, for his service..
The city entered into an agreement with Brigit Barnes and Nicole Granquist for legal services. Barnes specializes in land use, Granquist in lawsuit issues. The new attorneys join the main city attorney, Mick Cabral, who was hired in late August to replace Scott Browne.
• Sewer repairs: In October, the city received word they had received a $3.6 million commitment to fund repairs to the city’s aging sewer lines.
Written by former city manager Joan Phillipe before she left office, the grant award was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funds will upgrade four and eliminate two existing lift stations.
Residents learned they will have to pay for repairs to private sewer laterals - the lines that connect businesses and residences to the sewer system - before the property is sold or remodeled.
Colfax City Council members inched closer to completion of a state-mandated wastewater treatment plant upgrade in September, extending the terms for a state loan, authorizing staff to seek additional funding and approving the final $25,000 needed for contractor ECO:LOGIC Engineering to complete construction management.
• I-80 gets facelift: Construction crews began a months-long facelift on the 50-year-old Interstate 80 from Colfax to the Nevada State line in April.
The late night work (from 7 p.m. until 8 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on weekends) meant detouring vehicles along Rollins Lake Road returning to Interstate 80 in Colfax. Big rigs, buss and RVs were required to use the Highway 20/49 corridor.
Repairs, which were completed in November, involved overlaying the mainline with asphalt concrete, replacing the median barrier, upgrading the drainage system and making improvements to the bridges.
Granite Construction oversaw the $70 million construction project.
• Smiths go to Washington: Puzzle People owners Pat and Michael Smith may have earned international recognition.
The couple received a phone call in March from a company that contracts with the State Department. Apparently, the President and First Lady were seeking American-made products they could bring to children of diplomats they visit.
The Smiths created a wooden puzzle featuring the First Family’s Portuguese water dog, Bo, sitting on the front lawn in front of the White House.
Once the First Lady gave the go ahead, the initial order would be for 50 puzzles.
• Meadow Vista students go global: The Meadow Vista Lego Guard team was not only recently awarded the top prize in a worldwide competition, but their project to help guard against forest fires is being put into action by Sony.
At the Children’s Climate Action Summit in Denmark in May, the six-member team claimed the top prize for their solution to a climate-based problem.
The idea for the system is to mount solar-powered cameras throughout a forest and then link those images to the Internet. From there, those images would be available as a free screen saver so people could see live shots of the forest and also keep an eye out for any signs of fire.
As part of their prize, Sony agreed to take their system and create a prototype.