RIPON — In 2011, the City of Ripon went back to a traditional Fourth of July celebration, returning the fireworks display to Stouffer Field.
Prior to that, folks had to catch the pyrotechnic display by making their way to Mistlin Sports Park.
But thanks to the efforts of elected officials – namely, Mayor Elden “Red” Nutt and Councilman Dean Uecker, who helped in gathering the $20,000 via donations to handle the cost – the city was able to relocate the Independence Day celebration to the Ripon High football stadium.
This community-wide event also included a parade consisting of non-motorized vehicles, going from the historic downtown arch on Stockton Avenue to the other arch on Main Street.
Ripon Unified took the initial steps towards the possible change of the system of electing members to its governing board.
Trustees closed out 2011 by conducting two of three community meetings on the reapportionment plan.
Trustee Ernie Tyhurst and board Vice President Kit Oase are part of the subcommittee looking into the “one person, one vote” concept that’s been applied to RUSD for a long time.
“Our system is at-large with members running from nominating areas covering the entire district and are elected by voters as a whole,” Oase said.
He noted that the purpose of this method was put in place to have representatives from across the district, thus ensuring that Ripon voters can select those people who might “represent the interest of a broad-base community population.”
Oase added that this method worked out for the past 10 years when the district population was 13,183.
“Since then, we’ve grown by over 4,000 (people),” he said.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population here is 17,361. Enrollment-wise, Ripon Unified is 3,095.
The board hopes to have a plan in place consisting of “equal representation.” Or, in this case, about 3,472 and at least one school site per trustee area.
RUSD shares City Hall
For years, the Ripon Unified school board held its monthly meetings at Ripon High’s Multi-Use Room.
Trustees may have found a new home at the Council Chambers.
They tried out the state-of-the-art facility at Ripon City Hall on a trial basis over the summer. In September, the board sent a request to the city to continue the district’s fee waiver period through December.
Council, in turn, approved that request along with a similar one in December for continued use through 2012.
President Mike Fisher favored the Council Chambers, saying: “I can see the staff smile, the microphones here work, and the chairs are comfortable.”
Stouffer Field revitalization
In 2007, the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation began its grass roots efforts of trying to upgrade the aging football stadium at Ripon High.
In 2011, the group officially began work on Stouffer Field, getting approval from the Division of State Architect in Sacramento on Phase I of the plans consisting mostly of the infrastructure.
Yet it’s the first step towards making the stadium visibly seen from Highway 99 into a gem of the community.
Once done, the stadium will be that of a regulation-sized football / soccer field, eight-lane track, and a brand new scoreboard.
By this spring, Stouffer Field is expected to have the discus and shot put venue in place.
RCAF President Stephanie Hobbs recently said that the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and the Building Dreams Foundation donated $1,000 to go toward the shot put / discus planned for the north end of the field.
In September, the Ripon City Council voted to create a “successor agency” to the redevelopment agency.
In doing so, elected leaders can wind down the business of the Ripon Redevelopment Agency. Included is the expansion at the Mistlin Sports Complex consisting of the recently approved $3.3 million in bond revenue for the baseball / softball fields.
Under state Assembly Bill No. 26, RDAs were scheduled to be dissolved at the end of the month. However, AB No. 27 would have allowed for such agencies to continue operations on a yearly basis as long as voluntary payments are made to the county auditor / controller.
The Supreme Court of California, though, ruled last month that the state could take the RDA funds and that it was illegal to have a “play to pay” plan that would allow RDAs to stay in business.