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Paving a safer future with $100 bricks

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POSTED August 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.

You can make sure that the elderly who can’t afford smoke or carbon monoxide detectors and struggling families hard-pressed to buy car seats will have a safer future.

At the same time you can have your name — or that of a loved one —  stamped in  bricks that will be part of a 1,000-brick sidewalk being planned at the new Manteca Fire Station on Lathrop Road just west of Union Road.

The bricks are being sold at $100 apiece to benefit the Manteca Fire Chief’s Foundation. Sales have already started. The big push, though, is planned for the station dedication ceremonies scheduled for Sept. 11.

Fire Chief Kirk Waters noted that besides the two ongoing initiatives the foundation will often assist fire victims who have lost their belongings. Typically it involves providing them with a gift card at Wal-Mart so they can obtain pressing needs such as diapers.

Waters noted the organization is modeled after the Manteca Police Chief’s Foundation launched by Dave Bricker when he was Manteca’s top cop.

Subsequent bricks after the initial one for $100 are available for $80 apiece in a multiple order.

For more details call the fire department at 456-8300.

Can you hear

the council now?

They look great. You can see the documents they’re looking at. But you can’t hear them.

That pretty much sums up the experience of many trying to follow the Manteca City Council after a six-figure investment to replace an antiquated 26-year-old public address system at  the City Council chambers. Tuesday was the second meeting with the new audio equipment and you often couldn’t hear council members, staff, or speakers at the podium. At times you could have heard better with the 1987 system that was junked.

City Clerk Joann Tilton noted tech staff is still working out the bugs. At one point  when static overpowered voices it was suggested that council members and staff completely turn off their cell phones. It was fine for awhile but then  the static returned.

Several members in the audience complained they couldn’t hear anything. More than a few people were turning their heads so they could catch audible sounds with their ears.

Richard Hansen — a perennial council critic — nailed it on the head when he noted that every time a council member or department head did not speak directly into their microphone it was difficult to hear them.

It was even worse at home  watching on Comcast 97. Only when Councilwoman Debbie Moorhead leaned over and was inches away from the microphone could you hear anyone clearly. But if she turned her head slightly the sound of her voice dropped off significantly.

Even if they lose the static, the microphones aren’t working any better than the old ones in terms of people being able to hear the council whether they are in the council chambers or at home. The microphones definitely have to go. Maybe they will take Hansen’s suggestion and use microphones like the ones fast food workers use at drive-up windows. That way you don’t have to worry about a turn of the head making it impossible to hear what elected leaders are saying.

City was getting

ready to tear down

vacant structures

On Friday when fires struck the Gordon property on Union Road near the fire station three times, the City of Manteca had just obtained verbal OK from the property owners to level the buildings. The city was in the process of drawing up the legal documents when the three arson fires hit within a 13-hour period.

Fire Chief Kirk Waters, after consulting City Manager Karen McLaughlin, went ahead and made arrangements for demolition to occur on Saturday due to smoldering debris firefighters couldn’t reach.

On Tuesday, the Manteca City Council weighed in hoping in future situations the city would be able to act quicker on such public safety nuisances before it got to the stage of fires.

The cost of the demolition will be placed against the property in  the form of a lien from the city. Manteca  already has liens for weed abatement. But the city is in second position behind the State of California which has a lien against the property for $380,000 related to toxic clean-up issues.

Since the property is allegedly worth just over $120,000 it is safe to say the city shouldn’t be expecting their money any time soon.

But that also means the blighted property minus motel capabilities for the homeless and gangs will still be a problem.

Hopefully the city can work with the property owner and the state to see if some beneficial use can come  out of it.

Northing will happen, though, without the state and city agreeing to drop all of their liens or at least a large chunk to make buying the property economically practical.

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