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Moving Forward Is Focus For State Of City Address
State of City
Mayor Pat Paul delivered the State of the City address to a gathering of over 100 at the Gene Bianchi Community Center on Jan 25. RICHARD PALOMA/The Leader

In her annual ‘State of The City’ presentation, Mayor Pat Paul reviewed key accomplishments by the City of Oakdale for over 100 persons who gathered at the Gene Bianchi Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

During the event sponsored by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce, Paul gave kudos to City Manager Bryan Whitemyer and the rest of the city staff for their financial direction, highlighting that coffers showed city reserves on the rise. A key part for the city’s financial stability was the passage of Measure Y by voters in 2014 that went into effect in 2015.

With the increased revenues, the city was able to hire four new police officers and three additional firefighters.

In reviewing emergency services over the past year, the mayor pointed out the city had hired a new police chief, Scott Heller, in October and that Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District, that the city contracts with for fire protection, had appointed a new fire chief in August, Matt Daly.

Accomplishments by the police department have been the addition of body cameras for officers to not only accurately capture incidents, but for transparency and accountability for police personnel.

During Mayor Paul’s talk, Sergeant Ben Savage gave a live demonstration with his mounted device to show the quality of how the cameras video the incident.

Paul also spoke of the department’s recent switch to a beat patrol system and the school resource officer program brought back at the beginning of the school year.

Fire department highlights that Paul touched upon were the addition of new paramedics along with handling over 2,000 calls for service.

Street maintenance and construction projects underscored accomplishments by the public works department with the mayor presenting an oversight of the new Oakdale Community Park complex on Yosemite Avenue. Portions of the park are named after key Oakdale figures that had been nominated in 2016.

“We’re hoping by spring this will open,” Paul said.

Paul discussed how shopping trends were changing and that local businesses needed to be innovative.

“I think the city’s job is to provide core services – police, fire, public works,” Paul said. “The rest is up to you.”

Paul told the gathering that the city had been approached about the possible construction of two new hotels but did not have additional details. She said area hotels in the city are continually booked.

“It’s not just during Rodeo Week,” Paul said, “but many times throughout the year.”

Mayor Paul also announced that the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train was planning on bringing back its “train robbery” adventure.

“This is the Cowboy Capital of the World, so I hope they go all out,” Paul said.

Staying on the topic of business, the mayor told of renovations that occurred to Les Schwab Tires and SaveMart.

During the subsequent question and answer period, local Realtor Jerry Jones asked the mayor about the city’s plan to deal with the numerous homeless and transients plaguing the city, especially at two city parks, located within sight of the new park she had just featured.

Paul told the group that the city was part of the county’s task force on homeless and encouraged local church groups to step up.

“I really don’t have an answer for you on that one,” Paul said.