RIPON – About five years ago, a group of concerned community members started a grass-root effort to renovate the football stadium at Ripon High.
They had a dream of one day making Stouffer Field a jewel.
In 2012, the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation – over the years, the non-profit organization led by the likes of Vince and Stephanie Hobbs and others worked countless hours, holding fundraisers and gathering donations – took that one gigantic step towards making that dream into a reality.
Demolition of the 70-year-old facility began late last May. Stouffer Field re-opened a few months later with sidewalks that made for easy accessibility. Couple that with a $100,000 double-sided scoreboard donated by PG&E, a regulation-length track, a natural grass playing field, and an infrastructure in place for future phases, to name a few.
The work isn’t done as RCAF continues its efforts through 2013 and beyond. The group is toiling diligently towards having the track and field venue ready for the spring. Fundraisers – most notably, Rina’s Run featuring a 5K run and half Marathon – and donations are also needed in order for the RCAF dream to become true.
Other happenings in Ripon for 2012 included:
Trustees of the Ripon Unified School District will soon determine how to handle the two elementary school sites on the voter-approved Measure G list.
The bond measure was passed with 57.71 percent of the voters coming out in favor of the plan that, for starters, would help pave the way for permanent classrooms at Colony Oak and Weston schools.
Both elementary school sites were in need of replacing the aging portable units, which, over the years, had shown plenty of wear. For example, the plywood floors are warped, the electrical outlets are inadequate for today’s technology, and mold continues to be an issue.
The $25.2 million in bonds would also make possible libraries and science labs, modernizing support facilities, and allow for the district to finish pay off the Clinton South parcel that’s home to the Ripon High school farm.
As 2012 came to a close, some of the faces changed on the Ripon City Council.
The November election brought in newcomers Leo Zuber and Jake Parks. Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt was the only incumbent re-elected.
Charlie Gay and Garry Krebbs finished out their terms after losing out in the campaign.
Council, meanwhile, opted to continue to receive their health insurance, which comes as part of their compensation for the elected post, voting 4-1.
Chuck Winn, who does not take the insurance coverage – instead, he receives health benefits from his retirement package for his long-time service with the California Highway Patrol – had hoped his colleagues would follow his lead. He provided the lone ‘no’ vote.
“This saga started last spring when we were talking about the budget for this fiscal year,” Winn said. “The purpose for the cuts was that we had been running a deficit and had to offset some of our negative cash flow.”
Fortunately, the cuts didn’t come into fruition and Ripon was able to again operate in the black.
“I agree that our finances are in better shape today,” said Winn, claiming that nearly $62,000 from the general fund went towards the council health benefits this past year.
His plan, if approved, would have affected future council members. Zuber, who also opted not to receive the city’s insurance plan, and Parks were already elected during the time of the most recent discussion and, thus, were eligible for the health coverage.
Nutt noted that he was unaware of the benefits at time he was first elected.
“I had Medicare and my wife was on a private plan,” said Nutt. “But if this city were to go under I would give up (the benefits) in a heartbeat.”
Ripon will soon see the Compressed Natural Gas transit bus services going to and from the Save Mart shopping center and the Vintage Faire Mall / Target in Modesto.
The bus arrived last month.
City Engineer Kevin Werner indicated that the 35-foot CNG transit bus was made possible by the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant.
The City of Ripon entered into an agreement the San Joaquin Regional Transit District on hiring of the driver. RTD, in turn, would be responsible for providing a substitute driver as well as any training, screening, and drug / alcohol testing.
According to the proposed schedule, the new transit services include picking up riders at Ripon Elementary School, the Senior Center, Bethany Town Square, and Chesapeake Landing, to Save Mart and Vintage Faire Mall / Target.
The five elementary sites of Ripon Unified continued to hover above the statewide expectations of the Academic Performance Index.
The state Department of Education recently released the 2012 Growth API of the Standardized Testing and Reporting program.
The statewide API goal – the scores here range from 200 to 1,000 – is 800 for all schools. RUSD, for the most part, exceeded that threshold.
The scores posted consisted of second- through eighth- grade students who were tested a year ago.
Of that, only Park View and Colony Oak schools met the federal targets as established under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Park View again led the district with an API score of 894 despite dipping 18 points from that of the previous year.
Colony Oak jumped eight spots, posting an 877 score.
Ripona also improved by six points with an 842 API.
Weston and Ripon Elementary both slipped 15 points, tallying scores of 836 and 802, respectively.
Based on the 2012 API score, Ripon High’s 783 was a seven-point improvement.
RUSD school board
Trustees Ernie Tyhurst and Kit Oase spent a few months in 2012 as part of the subcommittee that studied and reworked the representation area lines for future school board members.
Their data was based on the 2010 U.S. Census, with the goal of “one person, one vote” ruling of 40 years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The existing trustee boundaries were out of alignment, hence, the need for change. One trustee area, for example, had about 1,679 people while two other areas over 4,300.
Oase credit this imbalance as “the result of population grown over the past 10 years.”
The redrawn lines provide more balanced boundaries within the school district, with each trustee area now consisting of over 3,400 people.
As it turned out, the board didn’t have a chance to utilize the change during the November election.
That’s because incumbent Mike Fisher ran unopposed and was automatically given another four more years. Jack DeLiddo opted against another term, but newcomer Christina Orlando, who was also unopposed, was appointed to the post.