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“Progress in spite of Recessions”
This decade has been full of challenges beginning with the early 2000’s recession which occurred for a number of different reasons, as expressed by economists. The first contributing factor seemed to be the collapse of the dot.com bubble. Then came the September 11th attacks against the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon, causing a huge outcry among Americans. Although we rallied and stayed as positive as possible through this major event, the economy took a hit as people stopped spending money. A few years of “good times” seemed to follow, but were short-lived as the Corporate scandals were uncovered, such as the Enron debacle, contributing to the national uproar. Immediately following, the banking and housing markets collapsed, all playing a significant role in the trying times of the decade.
In spite of these economic times, Porterville has managed to navigate the challenges facing our community, choosing to label the trying times as “challenges,” and not insurmountable obstacles. Numerous positive developments have been recognized, including the following:
Porterville Sports Complex
Early in the decade, plans were being made to establish a Sports Complex near the Porterville Airport to host sports activities for the community. Through the years, dedications included youth facilities, one of which was a playground funded by the family of Don Kavadas, a former coach and educator in the Porterville area. Basketball courts were funded by the Rotary Club and a giant four-section playground with a three-seater slide, spiral slide, swings and monkey bars were funded by the associates of Wal-Mart Distribution Center No. 6021. Today, this state-of-the-art facility features 11 soccer fields, 3 football fields, 2 softball fields, concession stand, restroom facilities and parking for over 300 vehicles.
Porterville Transit Center
After six years of operating a transfer site on Second Street, the City’s public transit system began its first day of operation on May 6, 2003, in the new Transit Center located at 61 West Oak Avenue. The grand opening was a culmination of several years of planning and grant processing to make the Center a reality. The Center is actively used today operating eight transit routes throughout the City of Porterville, and constantly upgrading and providing technological advances, the most recent of which will be the transition to electronic fareboxes expected to be in place by August, 2011.
Revitalization of Orange Avenue
In the mid-1990’s, Porterville was searching for solutions to the problems in the Orange Avenue area. Its infrastructure was substandard, with crumbling sidewalks and no traffic signals to help pedestrians cross the street, in addition to decaying buildings dotting the area. Looking for a creative way to breathe social and economic life into the area, the City began pooling funding from at least 13 different local, state, federal and private sources.
One of the first steps was converting Orange Avenue to a four-lane arterial street with construction being completed in 2005. Nostalgic-style street lighting and traffic signals were installed in preparation of the development of a new community center. With the Porterville Unified School District also interested in this site for its new Santa Fe Elementary School, a partnership was developed to jointly share the facilities.
Today, this reconstructed area has facilitated a better connection between residents and neighborhood amenities. The improvements also created an attractive and welcoming street for those entering the city’s downtown area. School children can also safely walk to school, and area youth and families frequently visit the Heritage Community Center.
With the demolition of the Nelson building in 2004, the Porterville Centennial Plaza was merely the beginning of a vision of things to come. With the construction of the professional office space, restaurant facilities, and stage and gazebo, it has been the culmination of years of fund-raising and dedication by organizations such as Bank of the Sierra, the Porterville Rotary Clubs, Home Depot, and the Tulare County Youth Corps, and private citizens as well. The tribute to Frank “Buck” Shaffer, a well-respected Band Director in the Porterville area, began with former students and band members organizing the community to raise funds for a town clock memorializing his years of guidance and dedication to Porterville youth. The “Time Marches On” clock was dedicated as a permanent fixture in Centennial Plaza in 2008. Centennial Plaza is home to “Music on Main,” numerous community gatherings, and hosted activities for the AMGEN 2010 Tour of California. It will continue to be a central location for community events and gatherings for many years to come.
The draft Environmental Impact Report initiated the commencement of this project back in June of 2006. Five years later, Lowe’s has been constructed and operating as an anchor in the shopping center, with progress being made towards a Super Wal-Mart being constructed to the west of Lowe’s. Other additions have been Panda Express, Subway, El Pollo Loco and Carl’s Jr. Once the economy stabilizes, it is expected that increased development will occur at the Riverwalk Marketplace located at the northwest corner of Highway 190 and Jaye Street.
CNG Fueling Station
As early as 2006, City staff was researching to determine the most appropriate way for the City to comply with California Air Resources Board air quality requirements. After exploring several alternatives, the decision was made to begin transitioning the City transit fleet and Public Works refuse trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG-fueled) vehicles. With the City’s transit fleet first to convert, four CNG low-floor transit buses were purchased, followed by an additional five, bringing the entire transit fleet into total compliance with the Air Quality standards. As the City was acquiring vehicles, plans were being developed concurrently to construct a CNG Fueling Station that would supply the City vehicles, as well as provide for a public fueling area for community use. A variety of funding was used to finance the major project including Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant funding, California bond money, Federal Transit Administration grant funds, and local transportation funds. The dedication of this major City accomplishment was held in September, 2009.
Expansion of Southern California Edison
In 2008, Southern California Edison constructed a maintenance yard, with approximately 15 maintenance crews working out of the site. In 2010/11, Southern California Edison is proceeding with the development of the state’s largest investor-owned utility photovoltaic power plant on 32 acres of city land adjacent to the Porterville airport, which will be capable of generating 6.7 million watts of electricity, enough power to serve 4,300 average homes on peak. The solar plant to be installed at the Porterville site will be connected directly to Southern California Edison’s nearest neighborhood distribution circuit and benefit all SCE customers in the region.
South County Justice Center
In 2009, the State of California purchased land from the City of Porterville, which was the long-standing site for the Porterville Fairgrounds. The purchase was to pave the way for the construction of a South County Justice Center which will include a 90,000 square-foot building at a cost of approximately $90 million. The new facility will require approximately 100 new support staff and is expected to be the catalyst for affiliated services generated which would include attorneys’ offices, messenger services, and other court-related offices. The project is moving forward with an estimated construction phase beginning in 2012, with completion of the project expected in 2013.
AMGEN Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the 2010 AMGEN Tour of California, pedaled its way through Porterville on May 20, 2010. The race lasted only 30 minutes, but the anticipation that preceded it pulled the community together in excitement. Local school bands joined thousands of residents lining the race route which entered the city from Lewis Hill and included Plano Street, Morton Avenue, Main Street, Orange Avenue, and then south again on Plano Street taking riders out of the City. The race itself was a catalyst for numerous other activities in the community including a youth bike rodeo, roller sprint races, a Livestrong Foundation Blood Drive, and food and drink booths. Though brief in length, it was long on community enthusiasm and excitement to be a part of such a high-profile experience.
With the State acquiring the former Porterville Fairgrounds property, the Porterville Fair Board has moved forward with obtaining a new site near the Porterville Airport, working in conjunction with the City of Porterville. The new 25-acre Porterville Fair Grounds is located on west Teapot Dome and boasts a new indoor expo area, new livestock barn, new indoor exhibit building and other amenities. The ample room will provide for many years of expansion and continued exhibits, local food and entertainment, and a larger carnival, all in the long-standing tradition of the great Porterville Fair.
U. S. History Timeline:
Population, 2000 281,421,906
Population, 2010 308,745,538
- 9/11/01- Terrorists hijack four U. S. airlines and crash them into the Pentagon and World Trade Center in New York City.
- 10/7/01 - In response to the 9/11 tragedy, the U. S. military, with participation from the United Kingdom, commence the first attack in the War on Terrorism on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
- 2/8/02 – 2/24/02 Winter Olympic Games held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- 2/1/03 - Space Shuttle Columbia explodes on re-entry over Texas. All seven astronauts were killed.
- 12/26/04 - The southeast Asian tsunami occurs following a 9.3 Richter scale earthquake in the Indian Ocean. 290,000 people perished from Sri Lanka to Indonesia, creating one of the greatest human tragedies in history. A worldwide relief effort was launched.
- 7/24/05 - American cyclist Lance Armstrong wins his 7th straight Tour de France.
- 8/29/05 - Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast – over 1,300 people perish from Alabama to Louisiana.
- 2/22/06 - The one billionth song is downloaded from the internet music store, Apple iTunes.
- 10/17/06 - The population of the United States reaches the milestone of three hundred million.
- 7/4/07 - The fifty star flag of the United States of America becomes the longest flying flag in history after flying over forty-seven years.
- 8/17/08 - Michael Phelps, the United States swimmer from Baltimore, wins his eighth Gold Medal of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games surpassing the record of seven won by Mark Spitz.
- 1/20/09 - Barack Obama takes the oath of office for President of the United States, becoming the first African-American president in the history of the nation.
- 4/20/10 - A British Petroleum deep water oil rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico causing the largest oil spill in the history of the Untied States, killing eleven workers, and devastating the environment. It also severely damaged the fishing and tourism industries of gulf states.
- 3/11/11 - The largest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history occurred registering 9.0 on the Richter scale, causing a devastating tsunami, with loss of life over 21,000, and a total estimated economic loss of up to $300 billion.
- 4/30/11 - Osama Bin Laden is killed after 10 years of pursuit by the United States and coalition forces during a raid by U. S. Navy Seals on his hideout location in Pakistan.
- U. S. Census Bureau
- America’s Best History: U. S. Timeline 2000’s
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
- Western City Magazine
- Electric Energy Publications, Inc.
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