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Filling council seat among top Ripon news
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Mark Winchell was called on to fill some big shoes to kick off 2015.
At  January’s Ripon City Council meeting, he was plucked from a who’s who list of candidates to finish out the remaining term of Elden “Red” Nutt, who passed away suddenly some two months earlier.
Winchell, who had served on the Ripon Planning Commission, will have the remainder of this year on the provisional appointment – his seat and the post occupied by Mayor Jake Parks will be on the ballot for 2016.
Much of what happened around Ripon in 2015 will continue on for the upcoming year.
Here’s a few of those examples:
North Pointe
The vision for North Pointe is that of place to work, shop, and live.
That’s the description provided by David Gates, the founder and president of the landscape architect firm of Gates + Associates.
The North Pointe Specific Plan comprises of about 310 acres – bounded by the Mistlin Sports Park to the north, Highway 99 to the south, Fulton Avenue to the east, and Jack Tone Road to the west – and calls for a mix of neighborhood and regional serving commercial, technology, office, recreation, entertainment and residential uses.
The project continues to move forward as a series of workshops including the NPSP Public Facilities Financing Plan Administrative Draft in December.
Water conservation
The state-wide water conservation efforts had been a rollercoaster ride of sorts for the City of Ripon during 2015.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandate of 36 percent reduction – 2013 is the baseline comparison – applies to all cities and water agencies during these severe drought conditions.
Ripon had been south of those figures during a three-month span dipping to a low mark of 22.5 percent at one point.
But, finally, some good news – Public Works Director Ted Johnston just reported that water use for November had decreased by 34.2 percent.
Those numbers could improve as all homes in Ripon are expected to be fully metered by May.
The City received a Notice of Violation from the State California Water Board but took action by reducing the number of watering days to just one day during the winter months while offering free household water audits, to name a few.
Ripon, in addition, has been imposing strict warnings and even fines to those in violation of the new ordinances.
The water conservation efforts will be ongoing for 2016.
Measure G
Colony Oak and Weston elementary school were part of the voter-approved $25.2 million bond measure in 2012 that called for updating the two Ripon Unified campuses.
Construction at Weston began in July 2014 and was completed this past August.
A new Multi-Purpose Building with a gym, permanent classroom wings and the repurposing of the old Multi-Purpose Building into office spaces and student-support services – the Learning Center, Speech Room, and Read 120 – has replaced the old gym, which had been deemed unsafe for games, and the aging portable units.
Students there had spent the past school year spread out along the various kindergarten-through-eighth-grade campuses in the district.
Colony Oak is now in the planning stages for renovations targeted for construction to begin this summer.
WLC Architects, thus far, have worked with the Colony Oak Design Committee on the converting the school into a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics campus.
The STEM education labs will be centerpiece once the remodeling is completed.
Students, meanwhile, will continue to attend classes at Colony Oak once classes resume in August.
RUSD leadership
Siegrid ‘Ziggy’ Robeson was selected in 2015 to replace Bill Draa, who came out of retirement about two years ago to help out the district during its time of need.
Robeson was hired by RUSD about a year ago as principal of Colony Oak. Prior to that, she was a principal for 20 years at Rio Linda and was part of a school district that later was absorbed by the Twin River Unified School District.
Trustees voted unanimously on Robeson as their next superintendent at the May 18 meeting.
She worked alongside Draa for several months, learning the ropes of the district including the ongoing Measure G projects.
Draa was the former Banta School District superintendent.
He started off as the interim RUSD superintendent following Louise Johnson’s resignation in the summer of 2013, signing a two-year pact soon after to stay aboard for the beginning and completed stages of the Weston reconstruction.