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It's a sign
Manteca working on electronic display sign
Manteca Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive officer and Manteca Council member Debby Moorhead holds te designs for the proposed electronic sign that is planned for East Highway 120 on a site being donated by the South San Joaquin Irrigation District in front of the agencys headquarters. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Travelers on East Highway 120 may one day soon be welcomed to Manteca by a state-of-the art electronic display sign.

The City of Manteca is working on plans for a 20-foot high, 8½-foot wide sign with an electronic display sign. It would go on the western edge of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s headquarters that was recently annexed into the city.

The sign will replace the nearly 40-year-old chamber welcome sign that was located about a quarter mile to the east toward Jack Tone Road before being removed earlier this month.

SSJID General Manager Jeff Shields said oleanders would be cut back to allow the sign to be visible from both directions of travel. He added the district could easily power the electronic display portion by placing solar panels on the nearby district office building.

An SSJID crew removed the older  sign that was weather beaten and leaning earlier this month.

Manteca Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Debby Moorhead, who also serves on the Manteca City Council, said the business organization has received a lot of complaints about the old sign over the years.

“It was embarrassing,” Shields agreed.

Moorhead noted the reason it was left in place had to do with replacement plans.

“We wanted to take it down but if we did without replacing it right away, we’d no longer be grandfathered in the Caltrans right-of-way,” Moorhead said.

Once the SSJID agreed to allow a new sign at their location, Moorhead said the chamber decided to remove the existing sign.

“As long as we have a place for a new one, it was fine to take it down,” Moorhead said.

The new sign location is outside the Caltrans right-of-way.

That leaves just one of the original three Welcome to Manteca signs standings. That one is located on property owned by ANF Development on Moffat Boulevard. Moffat was once one of the main entrances to Manteca.

The other was on West Yosemite Avenue across from what today is Kaiser. It was removed a few years back to make room for a business park.

Moorhead is hopeful that other welcome signs could go up at Daniels Street and Airport Way and other high traffic routes leading into Manteca.

The sign in front of SSJID’s headquarters will be paid for using redevelopment agency funds.

No expenditures, though, can take place until after Dec. 31 based on state rules governing RDA changes.

RDA funds also can’t be spent on the wayfaring signs until 2012. The 44 signs are expected to cost $40,000. There is $200,000 in the RDA budget for signage. The balance will go toward the electronic sign.

The council opted to go with the branding logo for Manteca developed by the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau that features the slogan “Hook, Wine, & Sneakers” below stylized renderings of fish, wine and sports balls with electric colors. The slogan is designed to depict fishing, outdoors activities, and Bass Pro Shops, wine tasting, and recreation sports such as softball at Big League Dreams, soccer, and even BMX racing.

That logo would go on the front side along with points of interests and directional arrows. On the back side, staff was instructed to place the Manteca Chamber of Commerce logo as well as the City of Manteca seal.

The exact colors of the wayfaring signs will be brought back to the council for approval.

From the beginning, sign boosters from the Convention & Visitors Bureau have contended they want to promote a brand that can become ingrained in the minds of visitors whenever they think of Manteca. The CVB - after they devised a brand for community tourism and visitors - dropped using their own logo and simply went with the Manteca branding on all of their promotional materials.

The goal is to get visitors, who often stay overnight in motels, easy directions to reach other places in town where they may be willing to spend money.

The destinations that signs will list include downtown, the civic center, library, golf course, Big League Dreams, courthouse, BMX, historical museum, Chamber of Commerce, lifestyle outlets, post office, skate park, hospital, ACE train station, Woodward Park, Highway 120, Manteca Visitors Center, and Delicato Vineyards wine tasting room. Specific names of private businesses such as Delicato won’t be used, though. Instead the signs will simply say “winery” accompanied by a directional arrow.