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Manteca loses Fred Millner; he kept tabs on community issues

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POSTED November 15, 2017 12:43 a.m.

Fred Millner — a man who never minced his words when commenting on community concerns — passed away Monday at his home in Powers Tract.
Millner rarely missed a Manteca City Council meeting and penned letters on a regular basis to the Bulletin on subjects ranging from the need for city leaders to drop funding of the Convention & Visitors Bureau after he felt it went far afield from its stated non-profit mission to renaming Moffat Boulevard Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Millner’s rationale in the 2013 letter was that the city has transformed Moffat from an ugly, rundown corridor with almost $12 million in improvements including the transit station, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, Tidewater Bikeway, Spreckels Park MBX course, the Industrial Park Drive extension, and repaving the roadway.  The city also aggressively cleaned up dilapidated buildings and chased out overnight truck parking and stopped the practice of people using city property as a makeshift dump, Millner noted the “old image” of Moffat is tied in some folks’ minds to the Moffat Feedlot.
Millner was part of the 15-member citizens budget advisory panel in 2009 that advised elected leaders on cuts and other steps they needed to take to prevent the City of Manteca from slipping into a financial hole when the Great Recession hit .
Sierra High’s Cardenas
earns $10,000 scholarship
to The Art Institute
Manteca Unified has its own top chef — Adrian Cardenas.
The Sierra High culinary student took first place in a cooking competition Monday at The Art Institute in Sacramento.  Cardenas earned a $10,000 scholarship to The Art Institute plus a new Kitchen Aide Stand mixer.
Cardenas was one of three finalists out of 250 students.
The competition will be aired on Sacramento TV station Fox 40 on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 11 a.m.
The Sierra High culinary program took students on a field trip last year to the Art Institute.  Cardenas had already enrolled at the Institute prior to the competition. He will be competing in the Regional Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) competition in February. 
It is just one of a long list of examples of students securing jobs or advanced training for careers thanks to the Manteca Unified emphasis on vocational training including through the be.tech Academy charter high school.
The importance of vocational education is underscored by the fact typically only 20 percent of Manteca Unified grads go to college with another 51 percent entering community college — although more than half drop out without securing a marketable degree or skills.
The district’s vocational education effort and be.tech Academy is a  bid to enhance the ability of students to be able to use what they learn in 13 years of education to not only secure a job but to make a living.

Coding errors prompt
city to drop $700 charge

The City of Manteca Tuesday determined coding errors led to Janis Music in downtown Manteca being erroneously billed $700 for a series of “false alarms” when actually there was criminal activity involved.
While the city quickly corrected the error, the grumblings about the city’s alarm policy may not go away anytime soon.
Critics have issues with the annual requirement to update alarm information — a critical component to allow Manteca Police to have current contact information when an alarm goes off — while others have been unhappy with how billing disputes over false alarms have been handled in the past.
The reason the false alarm policy and fine procedure exists is simple. Back in 2008, Manteca Police responded to 3,527 residential burglary alarms. Mechanical failure or owner error accounted for 98.7 percent of those calls and not criminal activity.
Each alarm response took an average of 18 minutes to respond, check the structure and contact the owner. Due to the nature of the calls it requires two officers. Manteca Police devoted 2,116 hours in 2008 responding to false alarms that took resources away from other calls as well as reduced proactive patrolling.
Instead of following the lead of some cities that addressed the problem by not having police respond to burglar alarms that are a contract between the alarm firm and the customers and not with any jurisdiction, the Manteca City Council took a different path. They opted to revamp Manteca’s ordinance dealing with false alarms.
The rules put in place in 2009 limited false alarms to two a year and not two a month. There is no charge for the first two responses. The third false response is $100, the fourth response is $200, and the fifth is $400 within a designated period.
In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016,  Manteca billed $117,600 for false alarms. The previous three year average was $121,900. All money collected goes into the city’s general fund.
The alarm permit comes with details on the owner’s responsibility and city policies plus provides police with contact information. There is no charge for the permit or to renew the information annually as the ordinance requires. Alarm permits expire on Dec. 31 of each year and must be renewed by no later than Jan. 31.
Before the ordinance was updated in 2009 there was no charge for not having an alarm permit or for the owner failing to respond. The ordinance now in effect charges $200 for no alarm permit and $100 if the owner fails to respond.
Although some complained to city officials at the time that is was simply a tactic to try and balance the municipal budget, that wasn’t the case.
It wasn’t as much about raising revenue – which was used as the stick to force compliance – as it was to free up limited resources.

Great Wolf representatives
at chamber Lunch & Learn

Great Wolf Lodge representatives continue to make the rounds in the community.
The latest is an upcoming Lunch & Learn being staged by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Nov. 29, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Big League Dreams, 1077 Milo Candini Drive.
Representatives from Great Wolf will discuss the possibility of locating in Manteca, what that could mean, and what they have to offer.
There is limited seating. Call or email chamber Executive Director Joann Beattie at 209.823.6121 or joann@manteca.org to reserve a spot. Lunch will be available at the event for $10.
The BLD is almost directly across Daniels Street from the 30-acre site that the city has placed infrastructure and secured environmental clearance for a 500-room hotel, indoor water park, and conference center.
Great Wolf representatives have been meeting directly with City of Manteca officials after the city parted ways with McWhinney Development Co. that had been serving as a middle man.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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