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The Shafter Press 

A glowing State of the City

Mayor Alvarado points to growth

 

February 7, 2019 | View PDF

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Mayor Gilbert Alvarado at the Community Service Awards Jan. 31.

At the recent Community Service Awards Banquet, Mayor Gilbert Alvarado delivered the State of the City address. Here is the speech:

Last year, Cathy Prout began this speech by pointing out that Shafter has been a place of change ever since trains began stopping here more than a century ago. We have a history of welcoming change -- new crops, new businesses and new people.

Cathy and I are both part of that tradition. We both grew up in other places, but have put down roots in Shafter and have been welcomed to the community. I am grateful for this place and I am honored by the opportunity to serve as Shafter's mayor.

We also have a few other changes on City Council this year. I want to thank Eli Espericueta for his service on the City Council. We are grateful for the time he took away from business, coaching and family to serve our community in this way. Cesar Lopez is joining the council for the first time. He is also someone who has a long record of community service. He brings passion and ideas for Shafter, and we welcome him.

Through these changes and others, I am proud to report that the state of our city is strong!

It is important that we are honest with ourselves. We have work to do. Like any place, we have challenges with poverty and crime. We need to make sure that our infrastructure is keeping up with our growth. We need to protect our water. We need to ensure that families across the city have places to live, work and play. All these things have costs and lead to hard choices about our priorities. As a city, we have decided that our core responsibilities are jobs, safety and education. That is where we focus our energy and resources.

We have blessed over the years to have major companies choose to invest in Shafter, bringing new jobs and tax revenue. This year was no different. Essendant, a national distributor of office furnishings and supplies, opened a 405,000-square-foot warehouse in Shafter. Walmart has begun construction on a 600,000-square-foot cold storage facility. Walmart says this building will be the most highly automated facility in the company and is expected to attract worldwide attention. Other commercial projects totaling more than 2 million square feet are on the way.

We should not take this success for granted. Companies do not have to come here. It takes a strong team that delivers consistent service. This year, we added an important player to our team in hiring a new Economic Development Director Bob Meadows. Bob was previously at Mission Bank, and he brings a wealth of small business and nonprofit relationships from across Kern County.

In Shafter, public safety is a high priority. Our professional Police Department continues to provide a high level of professional policing services -- and we are growing! This year, we added an employee to animal control, two police officers and one dispatcher. The city is currently sponsoring a cadet in the Kern County Police Academy. They are expected to graduate in June and we look forward to them joining the Shafter team.

In education, I want to highlight something brand new. Last year, we talked about bringing enough college classes to Shafter so that students could take a full year of classes without leaving Shafter. I am pleased to announce that is now possible. Right now, Bakersfield College is offering 14 classes at Shafter High and the Shafter Learning Center. In addition, this month, the Shafter Learning Center will become the first off-campus BC Hub for online classes. This will include regular tech support for dozens of online classes, dedicated study space, computer access, registration, counseling, free online tutoring by experts in the subject -- everything you need to be a full-time college student, right here in Shafter. This is not the end of our work with BC, but is a big step forward.

Shafter continues to grow. That comes with growing pains. But most importantly, it comes with growing opportunities for our people to achieve their potential through jobs and education. I am confident in Shafter. I believe we will continue to welcome new challenges, as we always have, and end 2019 even stronger than we began. Thank you!

 

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