Leaders discuss state of county
John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
Chowchilla Mayor John Chavez lists his city’s accomplishments and efforts.
Elected officials of Chowchilla and the city and county of Madera attempted to rally community pride during the recent annual State of the County luncheon.
“We’ve built trust and unfortunately sometimes we’ve destroyed that trust,” said District 1 Supervisor Brett Frazier in his keynote speech. “We’ve been the scrappy little county that won’t take no for an answer, but we’ve also been the little county that was content with just getting scraps … Will you choose your community over politics? Will you choose what’s right for the community and not just what’s right for our own self interests?”
The local Economic Development Commission hosted lunch March 13 for area leaders at the Madera Municipal Golf Course to discuss the state of Madera County and learn about new promotional efforts.
Visit Yosemite Madera County showcased a new cartoon advertisement promoting Madera tourism and seven Animal Trading Cards highlighting county visitor hot spots, like the Madera Wine Trail, that can be picked up around the county. The cards can be collected for a chance to win a vacation package and other prizes in a Yosemite Adventure Contest that will run April 1 to Dec. 20. Drawing dates will be July 1, Sept. 30 and Dec. 20.
Luncheon speakers included Frazier, Madera Mayor Andrew Medellin, Chowchilla Mayor John Chavez and several eastern Madera County representatives, such as Theresa Wilson, who chairs the Eastern Madera County Chamber Alliance. The alliance unites the Chambers of Commerce of Coarsegold, North Fork, Oakhurst and Bass Lake.
Medellin praised government partners with the city that had enabled efforts at crow abatement, helping the homeless, lobbying for transportation funds, and working on city changes with high school students up to 21 years of age.
“When you ask a 16-year-old (student) what would you like to see in your city, trust me — you’re going to get some very colorful ideas,” said Medellin, explaining the city council’s partnership with teenagers of Madera Unified School District. “But these are ideas we’re actually going to implement as far as no smoking in parks, and things of that nature, that they feel are very important.”
Medellin acknowledged the council has gotten “kicked in the teeth a little bit” at public meetings in the past year or so. That caused him to reflect, he said, on whether the city is “doing a less than stellar job” in informing the community about “complex issues” such as salaries, budgets and water rates. That spurred the city to use social media and utility bills to offer “more” and “better information.”
The city also plans to hold “14 workshops over the next few months or so” for the council and the community “to let them know exactly what we’re doing” and to welcome “community input.”
Chavez detailed the accomplishments of Chowchilla in 2018, which include 81 new homes of which 61 are “in USDA projects to provide affordable housing.” The city issues 90 new business licenses in 2018, he said. Camarena Health will be expanding, a Panda Express Restaurant should open this year, and a hotel and another restaurant are expected.
As far as infrastructure, Chowchilla activated a solar array for its waste treatment plant in 2018, and a second array is awaiting completion in a city courtyard. The city also installed a new well and 750,000 gallon water storage tank, “which will be placed online soon once PG&E (runs) electrical service to the tank. And construction has started on a second 750,000-gallon tank along with booster pumps and pressure stabilizers.”
Wilson shared about the partnership of mountain communities with the California Main Street Alliance, which offers training, networking, and resources to revitalize older commercial districts. She summed up “four points” to the effort: economic vitality (“capital incentives” and economic tools), design (“visual assets”), promotion (positioning the districts as hubs), and organization, which she said is needed to create a “strong foundation for sustainable revitalization efforts.”
Visit www.californiamainstreet.org for information on California Main Street Alliance. Visit www.yosemitethisyear.com/welcoming-committee to view the county’s new animated promotional video and Yosemite Adventure Contest details.