Will Shafter become a central hub for distribution of all types of goods through the state and onward through the country?
Mayor Chad Givens reported to the City Council Tuesday night that he and Mayor Pro-Tem Cathy Prout met with members of State Rep. Vince Fong's office to talk about such a future, with Shafter becoming an inland port.
In a follow-up interview on Wednesday, Givens said the Shafter rail spur was specifically built for the city to be an inland port to release pressure from the Long Beach and Oakland ports and to be a north/south connector for the Central Valley and California. The city's rail strategy hasn't caught on with large agencies as yet.
This year, the city has made a push to change how they view us, including meeting with Fong's office, though he does not represent the Shafter area. Fong's office says that the Long Beach Port Authority, along with the BNSF railroad, is now considering Shafter a viable option for port activities.
Givens and City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez also spoke with the committee for the Central Valley Council of Governments and expressed how Shafter is ready for what they are looking for and can connect the Stockton port (north) to Shafter (south) with rail, and since Shafter has one of the state's largest logistics centers between Highway 99 and Interstate 5, along with Highway 43 and it's location next to Bakersfield, the site becomes a viable option.
"We just need to be the ones to tell our story, and not allow others to do it, which is what has happened in the past. This will only increase the logistic traffic for the city in regards to industrial services and based on our commercial conference recently, it will increase Shafter's opportunities in retail services as well, including food and tourism."
In other action, the Shafter City Council was introduced to the new manager of the Shafter Learning Center, Irene Montoya. Montoya is no stranger to Shafter, as she was one of the founding members of the group that worked to get the GROW Academy in Shafter opened. Montoya was at GROW Academy since 2017. She said that she is very impressed with the Shafter Learning Center and has had such wonderful support from Director David Franz and the staff. "It is so different going from a school environment to the Learning Center, but it is a great one. It has been a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to meeting the entire community and serving them."
In the only item on the agenda, the Council approved the purchase of clay roofing tiles to improve the roof at City Hall. Problems with leaks and flooding in the building made the improvements necessary. They are acquiring the materials from ABC Supply Co. in the amount of $30,000. They learned that the process for acquiring materials has a window of about three months, so the council decided to add the order to an existing order for other materials to it, relieving the city of having to wait for an extended period of time to receive the materials.