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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Mayor shares achievements, progress in State of the City

 

Last updated 4/3/2022 at 12:30pm | View PDF

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Mayor Cathy Prout presented the address to the crowd.

At last week's Shafter Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet, Mayor Cathy Prout presented the State of the City Address, giving an update and report of the progress in Shafter.

With the city reopened and starting to resume regular operations, the city is in a lot better position than many valley cities, in large part due to the leadership that was proactive in their decisions, looking towards the future as well as the present when making decisions for Shafter's future, Prout said.

Prout detailed the different projects that Shafter has in the works, as well as the improvements that have been made in the past year. For those who did not get to hear the presentation, here is the State of the City Address in full.

The State of the City Address

It is wonderful to be here with you and celebrate a year of great progress in Shafter. The City is moving forward.

In Shafter, we have a tradition of acting with the future in mind. We are continuing that tradition. We are making investments in infrastructure, organizational capacity, public safety, and education. These investments are important today but are absolutely critical to where we want to be in the future. Here in the Central Valley, we know that harvests don't come without planting, time, and work. Thankfully, this year I can share about seeds we are planting for the future and the efforts we have made bearing fruit.

Public Works

I want to tell you about a group of people who make sure things work around town - the Public Works Department. Their recognition is well deserved as they continue to work for our community. Every day, you rely on your roads and pipes, expect our parks to be maintained, our trash to be collected, our streets to be cleaned, and the landscaping around town looking good. This is a never-ending job. Thank you to our Public Works Department for taking care of all of us and more.

Here are a few Public Works projects that are worth highlighting this year. There have been major road improvements on 7th Standard, and at Lerdo and Zerker with repaving and enhancements. The West Beltway Project included a new signal light and a new mile of road in the Wonderful Industrial Park. We also completed water tank improvements to help ensure the safety and capacity of our water supply as we continue to grow.

Upgrades were also made at Mannel Park, including a new outdoor fitness area and an upgrade to the volleyball court.

We recently received two significant grants for public projects. The City of Shafter was awarded $3.8 million for a new North Shafter Community Park. This was all made possible with our partners Public Health Advocates and Listen to Shafter. This project will be another community asset for the City and give residents in that area access to a beautiful park in the years to come. The City was also awarded a grant for $4.65 million that will be used to make the aquatic center operational again. The pool project will include pool replastering, replacing the pool deck, ADA improvements, bathroom and locker upgrades, shade structures, and more. The grant also provides funding for improvements at Veterans Park, Mannel Park, Stringhams Park, and the Skate Park.

Building and Economic Development

We welcome business in Shafter. Once again, 2021 was a year of companies choosing Shafter. We do not take that for granted. We are honored by the confidence businesses have shown in us as a local government and our community. Investment creates opportunities, and it provides the revenue to sustain our City services.

We have shared about Darrell's Mini Storage coming to the 7th Standard area in the past. That business is now open. So is the new Chevron station and Corner Market on Lerdo Highway. Nearby, at Minter Field, the Minter Field Airport District has a new office building.

Scelzi Enterprises Truck Body Manufacturing has relocated to the Weatherford Building at the Wonderful Industrial Park. Scelzi makes premium work trucks and is currently hiring.

A new million square foot warehouse is under construction, with a 300,000 square foot building behind it. We make announcements like this every year, but it is worth pausing to consider just how much space that is. Shafter has become an indispensable logistics hub, it creats thousands of jobs and powers the regional economy. The Wonderful company invests in this hub in multiple ways, most recently with the Amenity Center rising along 7th Standard. It is an impressive building, with offices, meeting rooms, and a state of the art training facility.

Home construction continued at a rapid pace at Gossamer Grove. The City permitted more than 350 new homes. Also, home construction picked up in other parts of the City. Santorini homes are building off Tulare Avenue. Self Help Enterprises are constructing on of Elizabeth Avenue behind the Grow Academy, and Balfanz Homes will be constructing off of East Ash.

Finally, we can look forward to some new and improved consumer businesses in town. Nineteen projects benefitted from the new Business Expansion Attraction and Retention program. This program provided incentives to help downtown businesses make improvements. Coffee lovers have probably noticed that Starbucks is getting closer to opening. Floyd's has plans to renovate and has taken out a permit to begin. A new Countryside Car Wash and Deli will be coming to the Central Valley Highway and Central Avenue.

Two local developers recently purchased two ten-acre commercial properties. They are currently seeking tenants and looking to build. Both owners are actively seeking local and national brand retail tenants to occupy these developments. One is located next to Gossamer Grove, and the other is near the Omni Family Health Facility.

Additional developers have also contacted the City to discuss the prospect of bringing more groceries and food chain providers to Shafter. As you can see, the Shafter economy is moving forward.

Public Safety

A professional, well-funded Police Department is essential to our Council and our community. Shafter police officers know they are appreciated and that matters. Being a police officer is a difficult job under the best circumstances. Not everyone can do it. We have attracted outstanding people to our department, four of them chose to come to us from other agencies. One is starting a career in law enforcement here. Continuing to attract talented officers is key to the future of our community.

Shafter Police officers are active and visible. We know that helps discourage bad behavior. In 2021, Shafter police officers issued 1,786 traffic citations. If you received one of those citations, I am sure it doesn't feel great, but enforcing traffic laws reduces accidents and keeps us safer.

The department also made 1,629 misdemeanor and 340 felony arrests, protecting the public and giving victims justice.

Education

This year, the big news in education is that the City Library is now open! It is officially part of what we are calling the Shafter Library and Learning Center. The Council is committed to making our Library more valuable and accessible for our Shafter children and families. Our Library is serving more days and hours than any other public library in Kern County, and we are adding new books every week. This is possible because of our great partners at Bakersfield College. We have worked with BC for many years. They stepped forward when they saw our need and agreed to commit staff and expertise to this project. This builds on years of a close partnership with BC and expands their ability to serve our Shafter students. Bakersfield College deserves all the praise and recognition tonight.

The Learning Center is back and bigger and better than ever. Thanks to our partners at GAF. We now have beautiful new spaces inside and out for classes, events, and studying. Hopefully, you have seen the new buildings and murals. GAF deserves the honors they are receiving tonight for a beautiful and colorful transformative gift to Shafter.

There is much more that I could say about the exciting things that are happening in Shafter. Hopefully, this gives you a sense of why I am so optimistic about the future of our City, and I look forward to keeping this momentum into 2022.

 

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