Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Messages of hope -- Local ceremonies honor victims, call for resolve

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson and Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City Police Chaplain James Scott told a small gathering Monday outside City Hall about his Sept. 11, 2001 experiences at Ground Zero, where he comforted rescue workers pulling bodies from the rubble.

But Scott took care that his message to the 70 or so police workers, city employees and onlookers was not one of dismay.

"I have hope," he said loudly and emphatically into the microphone, his voice reverberating on the buildings across the Suisun Channel.

The Suisun City Police Department inspection and awards ceremony was among the local events marking the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11. Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base also held ceremonies.

Vacaville paid homage to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 with a short dignified morning ceremony in front of the police station next to its Public Safety Memorial.

Travis Air Force Base servicemembers honored not only those who died on five years ago, but the nearly 3,000 servicemembers who died since then in the War on Terror around the world in a somber ceremony.

Suisun City: 'This is what they wanted to destroy'

At the Suisun City ceremony, Scott told those assembled he was called to Ground Zero five years ago in his role as chaplain of the Spiritual Care Aviation Incident Response Team for the National Transportation Safety Board. He saw the tragedy up close, holding the helmets of crying firefighters who had dug bodies out of the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

"We would carefully load the broken body on a stretcher, the horn would sound, all work would stop and I would lead a parade of firefighters holding the stretcher slowly down the rugged, burning rubble," he said.

At one point, rescue crews found a fire engine amid the rubble that had been crushed. About four people in the cab were dead. Fifty to 100 firefighters kissed the engine before the trip to the morgue, Scott said.

"Then they returned to the pile, with the hope of finding one of their friends alive," he said.
Scott stressed the hope held by the rescue workers and the sacrifices they made. He saw God transforming a living hell, he said.

Suisun City Mayor Jim Spering also spoke. He depicted Sept. 11 as an event that struck close to home, even though New York is more than 2,500 miles away. The terrorists struck at the fabric of the country, he said.

"This is what they wanted to destroy - the freedoms we enjoy and these small communities that govern themselves," Spering said.

Travis: 'A national resolve'

At 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Travis Col. Steve Arquiette described the day as not only a remembrance, but as an opportunity to "reaffirm our resolve to combat the extremists" who still threaten this nation.

Arquiette told assembled servicemembers that Sept. 11 has given rise to "a national resolve to keep this nation safe as to fight the good fight as long as it takes."

Since Sept. 11, Travis aircraft have flown more than 25,000 missions supporting the war on terror and nearly all its servicemembers have competed tours overseas. Approximately 700 are deployed around the world, Arquiette said.

Arquiette talked about flying over Ground Zero a year after the attack and pondered how soon it would be before Americans would forget about the horrendous day.

"But we have not forgotten, nor will we ever," Arquiette said.

One of the ceremony's guests, Fairfield Mayor Harry Price, described the anniversary as "a very somber day."

Price said he is still much more vigilant whenever he flies "because the forces of evil have not gone away."

Vacaville: 'How could I not be here?'

In Vacaville, an empty table was next to the Public Safety Memorial, set for the civilian, firefighter, police officer and military member who will never dine there.

A local veteran lit the candle on the table while a Vacaville firefighter rung a brass bell, a ceremony called Striking of the Four Fives to honor all the firefighters who lost their lives in New York that day.

"This is a symbol of the sacrifice and to show that we have not forgotten," veteran Kathleen Herren said.

Vacaville Fire Engineer Stewart Baldaram, Vacaville Police Officer Otha Livingston, Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Bill Griesemer and Vacaville resident Bob Vollmer then laid their service hats and a folded flag at the table.

This was to honor all those who died that day in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
"How could I not be here?" Vollmer said of why he participated.

Mark Helton and Rich Crockett were two of the people who made time out of their day for the ceremony, with Helton calling the ceremony "a fitting thing to do."

"(Sept. 11) heavily impacted my life," said Helton who was in the Air Force that day and has since served in Iraq. "It is important that we keep the memory of these people alive. It is easy for people to forget. We need to remember why we are fighting terrorism."

Crockett agreed, saying Sept. 11 caused him to take a deeper look at what brought America to that point and "examine the reality of the state of our world."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net. Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Heroes honored at Suisun City waterfront luau

From Daily Republic
By Susan Winlow

SUISUN CITY - Tables with red cloths dotted a portion of Suisun City Waterfront Park Saturday evening as the Red Cross honored area residents hailed as heroes with its Hero's Luau.

Dave Harris and the Voltones played 1970s rock as people in Hawaiian attire mingled with others and toured booths depicting recent disasters, animal CPR - complete with dog practice dummies - and a silent auction.

This is the fifth year the Solano County Chapter of the Bay Area American Red Cross chose to honor five area men and women in four categories: Act of Kindness, Courageous Act, Community Service and Lifesaving.

The evening, complete with cocktails and dinner catered by The Outback Restaurant, honored Vacaville residents Rhdora Kallum and Joyce Vancuren for assisting an accident victim; Grant Tokiwa, a Vacaville fire department member for his consistent dedication to worthy causes such as fund-raising for the Alisa Ann Rusch Burn Foundation; Larry Palmer for wading into the frigid American River near Kyburz to save a man whose car plunged into the river; and Vacaville's Sarah Vasquez, 19, who used CPR in May to revive a 2-year-old boy in her care who choked on his vomit.

"I'm very proud of her," said Bridget Clark, whose son Spencer Clark is still alive because of Vasquez's quick thinking and CPR knowledge. "It was the scariest phone call I've ever gotten."
Clark was in the Bay Area when she received the call her son stopped breathing. She didn't know how to do CPR and is glad Vasquez was with her son at the time.

"I acted instantly," Vasquez said. "I turned him over, cleared him out and did CPR."

Unlike Vasquez, Palmer didn't know the person he saved.

On his way to Lake Tahoe last winter, Palmer, a Fairfield Fire Department engineer, and his family passed a vehicle nearly submerged in the American River off Highway 50 near Kyburz.

Palmer and two others waded eight to 10 feet from shore into the icy, quick-moving river and pulled the man, who was trapped in his roofless vehicle and submerged to his neck in water, from the river with a rope.

Earning public kudos for a job well-done is something Palmer doesn't see much.

"It's different," he said. "I'm fortunate that I have a job that gets to affect people's lives (but) you don't get a lot of recognition for it."

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or swinlow@dailyrepublic.net.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Slough of challenges -- From anglers to kidnappers, patrol keeps waterways safe

From Daily Republic
By Audrey Wong

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City police not only keep the streets safe, they also protect people on the waterways.

Seven officers serve on the team that patrols the surrounding sloughs and bay - mostly on weekends during the summer when more people recreate in the slough. But the team will respond to emergencies year round. The officers regularly patrol the city, then work on the water in addition.

"People are more casual on the water," Suisun City Master Police Officer Trish Hart said. "They're relaxed. It's a nice way to contact people."

But the officers still encounter peril in the water.

The marine patrol scoured the slough off Grizzly Island Road Thursday to help Fairfield police search for an alleged kidnapper.

On July 4, the unit helped rescue a man and his 5-year-old son by the lighthouse, Hart said. The two were in a kayak that toppled and both plunged into the slough. The child was scared but father and son wore life vests, which helped, Hart said.

In mid-August, the unit helped the Solano County Sheriff's Marine Patrol with a boat accident involving five occupants, Suisun City police Sgt. Bob Szmurlo said. The boat was speeding at high tide, then ran over a levee and became airborne. No one was hurt.

Suisun City's boat patrol has helped stranded boaters and members have crawled out of bed to help fishermen whose boats got stuck in the mud in the middle of a cold foggy night, Szmurlo said.

The unit's boat has a global positioning system that helps the crew navigate when it's dark or the mist hangs heavy over the water. The state Department of Boating and Waterways provided funds to Suisun City police to purchase the boat. The same department pays for the Marine Patrol. The team also has two jet skis on loan.

The marine patrol's duties aren't limited to helping those in distress. On a recent cool, windy Sunday, Szmurlo, Hart and Officer David Fong glided out from the harbor into the slough.

Not many people were out because of the weather. So the boat team performed the other part of its job - safety education.

The trio came across a man with two children they saw earlier in the harbor. Hart asked for their life vests and informed the man that the law requires children younger than 12 to wear life vests. The children complied.

The boat patrol isn't out to write citations but to remind people about safety, officers said. The marine unit has life vests to loan to boat passengers who lack life vests and even have vests for children.

The unit also monitors jet skiers. There have been problems with people riding jet skis in the marina by the first buoy, Hart said. They like to ride the wakes left by boats, but the law prohibits jet skis within 100 feet of the edge of a boat.

Officers also ride on jet skis. Every year a local business loans Suisun City police two jet skis to patrol the marina.

The marine patrol also enforces the basic Department of Fish and Game laws. They check fishermen for fishing licenses. One Sunday when the boat unit cruised into Montezuma Slough by Grizzly Island, they spotted a few men fishing. Some of the men looked up from their lines and held up the licenses hanging around their necks.

The police boat travels as far as the reserve fleet off Benicia and to Collinsville. The unit also helped out at numerous maritime events such as the Bass Derby in Rio Vista, boat races in Antioch and Fleet Week in San Francisco, and have assisted Napa County Sheriff's deputies.

Other local boat patrols include the Solano County Sheriff's Marine Patrol, which is full time. The sheriff's boat patrol covers waters from the Suisun City dock, reaching to the bordering counties of Contra Costa, Yolo and Sacramento, said Paula Toynbee, sheriff's spokeswoman.

The four deputies and one deputy sergeant patrol and conduct rescues, investigations, searches and recoveries. The sheriff's fleet has three patrol vessels and two jet skis. The fleet will soon get a new 28-foot rescue vehicle and American Honda Company Inc. will loan two new Aqua Trax F-12 X Turbo jet skis.

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or awong@dailyrepublic.net.

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Air Force names up for consideration for park

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City's newest park will likely be named after something related to the Air Force when the city's Parks and Recreation Commission considers its options Wednesday.
Sixteen of 18 suggested names have military ties.

Five of the possible names are Air Force buzz words - America's Team Choice, Cross Into The Blue, Global Reach, Team Travis and Aim High. Another five are aircraft names - Falcon, Thunderbird, Eagle, Falcon, C-17 Globemaster and Globemaster.

The others possible names are Aviation, Honor, Heroes, Air Mobility, Airlifter, Airman, Peterson Ranch and Peterson Ranch Park.

Commissioners already tossed out the idea of naming the second park to be built in the Peterson Ranch after a person in August. All the streets in Peterson Ranch are named after Air Force bases.

Early last year, the city's Parks and Recreation Commission decided to name Peterson Ranch's other park, which is located on Vandenburg Drive, Patriot Park.

The commission had tossed out 26 other possible names that included the names of Air Force figures and that of a longtime Suisun City resident who had served in the military and worked at Travis Air Force Base.

The commissioners are expected to pick a minimum of three names they will send to the Suisun City Council later this fall for consideration.

The commission meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Suisun considers consultant for Old town projects

From Daily Republic
By Ian Thompson

SUISUN CITY - The Suisun City Council votes Tuesday whether to bring long-time city consultant ROMA Design Group into the effort to design and build the centerpiece projects of the Main Street West redevelopment project.

Councilmembers, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency, will consider two agreements Tuesday night.

One will hire ROMA as an on-call consultant on any projects coming before the Redevelopment Agency and a second hires ROMA as an on-call consultant for two buildings which the developer Main Street West Partners wants to build on either side of Solano Street on Main Street's east side.

The cost of the first agreement is open-ended, depending on how many projects ROMA looks at. The second will cost about $125,000.

It has been more than a year since Suisun City entered into exclusive negotiations with Main Street West to become the master developer and jump-start redevelopment efforts along Main Street.

It has been four months since the city sold 8.4 acres of downtown lots to the developer and work has yet to start.

More recently, the city sold Main Street West the vacant Crystal School site to build homes on with a proviso some of the money made from the homes go to commercial projects elsewhere in Old Town.

The developer promised earlier this year to start construction as early as this summer and there is talk of a groundbreaking for the two-building centerpiece project some time in September.

ROMA has been with Suisun City as a consultant on several downtown projects for a couple of years. It was part of the city/community workshops that came up with the plan to hire a master developer for the Old Town area and to build the lighthouse.

The Suisun City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Suisun City Council chamber at 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Riders get more runs on Capitol Corridors

From Daily Republic
Barry Eberling

SUISUN CITY - Train riders now have more choices in times to catch the Capitol Corridors at the Suisun-Fairfield station.

The Capitols this week started operating 32 trains daily between Oakland and Sacramento, with 16 in each direction. The service had been operating 24 trains.

"We have as many trains now between Oakland and Sacramento as Amtrak operates on the northeast corridor between Boston and New York," Capitols Managing Director Eugene Skoropowski said.

For example, early morning commuters can catch trains from Suisun City toward Oakland at 5:09 a.m., 6:09 a.m., 6:59 a.m. and 7:39 a.m. The station is located at 177 Main St. in Old Town, under the Highway 12 overpass.

"We've got a train almost anytime you want to go," Skoropowski said.

In the future, the Capitols for the Sacramento/Oakland stretch will concentrate on adding more cars to trains. For example, a five-car train might become an eight-car train, Skoropowski said.

The Capitols made one other change this week. The number of trains traveling to and from Oakland and San Jose increased from eight to 14. Along the way, they stop in such places as Hayward and Fremont.

These train increases for the San Jose run proved key to the Oakland-Sacramento increases as well. Before, trains that went to San Jose had to stay there for long periods because of the amount of freight traffic on the line.Track improvements made by the Capitol Corridor service this summer allowed the extra San Jose service. And that in turn allowed these trains to continue back to the Oakland/Sacramento stretch, adding the extra service there.

Now the Capitols can generate more revenue with the same amount of equipment, Skoropowski said.

There's more work ahead. The Capitols will try to add still more trains for the Oakland/San Jose and Sacramento/Roseville/Auburn stretches.

But Skoropowski believes the Capitols are already offering the kind of service envisioned when state voters in 1990 passed a bond to help pay for them.

"I think the message is, 'We delivered,' " Skoropowski said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.


Weekday Capitol Corridor schedule for Suisun/Fairfield:
Westbound: 5:09 a.m., 6:09 a.m., 6:59 a.m., 7:39 a.m., 8:19 a.m., 9:09 a.m., 9:59 a.m., 10:49 a.m., 12:49 p.m., 2:49 p.m., 4:14 p.m., 5:19 p.m., 6:19 p.m., 7:19 p.m., 8:19 p.m., 9:49 p.m.

Eastbound: 5:38 a.m., 6:48 a.m., 7:38 a.m., 8:53 a.m., 10:23 a.m., 11:23 a.m., 1:23 p.m., 2:33 p.m., 3:58 p.m., 4:38 p.m., 5:18 p.m., 5:58 p.m., 6:42 p.m., 8:03 p.m., 9:27 p.m., 10:28 p.m.