In ‘the dome,’ the new multi-purpose building at Wassuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee. Besides Wheeler, there were a number of updates from various speakers.
During Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler’s town hall meeting last week, Sheriff Jay Varney encouraged Mountain Area residents to sign up for ‘MC Alert’ on their land line and cell phones to get emergency updates from Madera County.
“This is especially important during fire season,” Varney said, adding many of the residents of Santa Rosa and Napa had little to no warning when those fast moving fires started last week.
Varney also said the board of supervisors approved an academy for cadets in law enforcement and one for Search and Rescue.
Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Larry Rich reported finding 10 new homeless encampments around the Oakhurst area recently. Rich detailed the finding of the ‘largest homeless camp’ ever discovered in Madera County two weeks ago with 15 tons of debris being removed with the help of Emadco Disposal Service. Rich encouraged residents who are donating clothing to thrift stores and churches ‘not drop off clothing and other donations at night as the homeless remove these items to their encampments.
Rich and Varney noted that homelessness is a rising issue in every city and county in the country and is not limited to the Mountain Area.
Director of the Community & Economic Development Matt Treber gave updates on large construction projects in the county. The large ‘hotel project’ in downtown Oakhurst continues to proceed slowly with no end date. The project will require another retaining wall and connecting to the sewer system.
The Riverstone development off Avenue 12 will have more than 300 homes by the end of 2018. The Tesoro Viejo project on Avenue 15 and Highway 41 is in the process of installing infrastructure. According to Treber each home will pay approximately $15,000 for traffic and infrastructure impact fees. These fees will help pay for lane expansion on Highway 41.
Finally, Community Regional Medical Center “purchased 200 acres off Avenue 12 and will build a hospital complex similar to its facility in Clovis,” Treber said. “This will be a state of the art facility and will be a significant provider of jobs for our community.” A timeline of completion was not given.
Sharon Fitzgerald, President of the Eastern Madera County SPCA, gave an update on the construction of the new no-kill shelter facility directly across Highway 49 from Wasuma Elementary School.
“This was a dream 27 years ago and we are finally underway,” Fitzgerald said. “The community support was great. We raised more than $2.6 million. Unfortunately there were unanticipated expenses, most having to do with road mandates from Cal Trans, but that has all been worked out.”
Fitzgerald and the SPCA board chose Papike Construction of Ahwahnee as their general contractor.
“We couldn’t be happier with Randy,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s been a blessing to this project.”
Papike stated that the “foundation should be finished in three weeks, and from there we expect good progress. It is an honor to be a part of this. The SPCA does so much for our community. They deserve this facility.”