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Ripon Chamber steps up its lobbying game
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Ripon Mayor Chuck Winn discusses proposed residential developments that may have an impact on Ripon and the Ripon Consolidated Fire District - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

It was seen as a very productive session of the new Government Relations Committee of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce that brought together representatives of the city, county, state and congress Friday noon in a meeting room of Bethany Home.

Michael  Lynch representing a government relations committee in Turlock and the Turlock Chamber of Commerce served as guest speaker after a field of representatives voiced their views in a round table discussion on the newly established governmental action committee.

Lynch formerly served as chief operating officer of the Great Valley Center, a non-profit agency serving all of California’s Central Valley from Redding to Bakersfield.  The Great Valley Center offers leadership, consensus building and information services to the state’s fastest growing and most diverse region.

In speaking toward the creation of the new Ripon action committee geared to keep businesses aware of government actions, Lynch said the chamber of commerce must have a strong person in the chairman’s position with many looking across the table toward almond farmer David Phippen as a future choice. 

“If you get a strong chair you will find you can make things move ahead,” Lynch stressed.  He added that his PAC group ignores the social issues that come up in the community but are in support of many of the city council’s proposals. 

“We also call attention to the city doing anything wrong,” he said in their effort to make things better.

“Things are changing in Ripon,” said Mayor Chuck Winn.  “It’s not the same as when we went into the recession.”

Winn said he is hoping to partner with the chamber and with the state and county with a city luncheon or dinner open to the public.  He said there has been concern about the lack of available information about the city in the past.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tamra Spade who formed the government relations committee said she has scheduled such an event for April 25 at 7:30 a.m. It will welcome college students from the government classes and state, county and federal representatives in addition to the students and other interested parties who want answers.

Winn noted that Ripon benefits from underground well water from the Stanislaus River 

“Some other cities are going to underground storage rather than flood the water down to the ocean,” he said.

Winn added that the city council and staff members are looking toward educating the public about reducing waste water. 

“There are a lot of opportunities to regain more water – not the proposed twin tunnels (to ship it south),” he added.

Mike Anderson, legislative aide from Congressman Jeff Denham’s office, briefly told of plans to increase the storage in New Melones Reservoir by 100,000 acre feet.

Mike Lynch said his Turlock committee has been careful to make their work “issue specific” in presenting their concerns to the public and supporting positive change in their community and assisting the city council.

He noted that they laud the city fathers when they do well and give them positive criticism when they are not doing the job the public requires for a good community.  As for the current water challenges, he noted that while the population increases are at 67 percent since the 1960s surface water storage has increased by only one percent.