If there was ever any question regarding support of Oakdale City Mayor Cherilyn Bairos, that was put to rest on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the annual State of the City address hosted at Bianchi Community Center.
Presented by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce a luncheon was served prior to the afternoon’s remarks for those who had purchased tickets for the meal. With no tables left unattended, seats were placed at the back of the community center for any and all who chose to solely attend the mayor’s address.
Showing support for the community youth, the Oakdale High School Jazz Band played prior to the start of the formal luncheon. Pledge of Allegiance was led by OHS senior Jessica Sanders and the National Anthem sung by fellow senior Grace Miller.
City Manager Bryan Whitemyer was first to step to the podium, noting that this was the11th State of the City he’d attended and by far the largest attendance he could recall.
“It is my privilege to introduce our Mayor, Cherilyn Bairos,” Whitemyer stated, giving the intro a bit of a personal spin. “I just wanted to say a few things about her.”
He went on to share he and Bairos were both OHS alum; Bairos with the Class of 1992 and himself with the Class of 1993.
“You would be surprised to know this, but she really loved rallies, parades all the way through high school,” he shared with a chuckle. “It’s really cool to see that she’s brought that into our community with that love and that passion.”
Whitemyer continued by sharing with attendees the professional history he has with Mayor Bairos, noting her initial start with City Council in 2014, followed by being named Oakdale City Mayor in 2021.
“It’s just been a blessing for me to serve with her,” he said. “I don’t think there is an individual that has more of a servant’s heart than she does. You all being here to support her, I think recognizes that.”
As if confirmation of the accolades offered by the City Manager, Oakdale’s Mayor approached the podium to report on highlights and progress of 2023, as well as future plans for the coming year.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my job is not to govern you. It is to serve you. To work hand in hand with each of you, to make our town the best it could be,” Mayor Bairos stated.
She also made note of the town’s uniqueness not just because of its history but because of the people who live here.
“When we work together for a common goal, it is like a symphony of diverse voices and ideas, that create positive outcomes for our community,” she said.
The mayor proudly spoke of community resilience during challenges, the way in which it rallies in support of one another and the grit and tenacity of local small business owners.
“These establishments are not just shops, they are part of the very fabric of our town,” she said of local small businesses. “They are the places where friendships are forged, where dreams are nurtured and where the essence of our town comes alive.”
During a slide show presentation a number of items were highlighted including the 2023-2024 Total Expenditure of $61 million, with $15 million noted in the General Fund Expenditure in the city budget.
“The City Council has practically made decisions to increase the general fund revenue 43 percent ($6.7 million) so the City is better equipped to handle negative economic conditions that may arrive,” said Bairos.
It was also noted that to date, cannabis sales in Oakdale have accounted for a total revenue of $2.2 million to the city, further noting that sales and cannabis use has not contributed to an increase of crime in Oakdale.
“The Oakdale Police Department was the first in Stanislaus County to acquire and build two new electric controlled vehicles,” Bairos reported. “Pretty wild, but I will say it is an amazing car.”
The mayor shared that use of one electric car in 30 days consumed $109 in electricity, which was at least $1,000 cheaper than those using gas.
The City of Oakdale also earned First Place in California for the fourth year in a row for National Night Out in its population category. For 2023 it was named eighth in the nation.
Looking ahead to 2024, Mayor Bairos shared renderings of Greger Sports Park with attendees and spoke of the start of the first phase.
“This is something a lot of you, including myself have been waiting for,” she stated. “The design for the Greger Sports Park is complete and the plans will go out for bid in the next week or so.”
Construction for the project is anticipated to start this spring. The first phase will include soccer fields, public restrooms, lighted tennis courts and four lighted pickleball courts. A gymnasium is also in the plans; however, work will not begin on that portion of the project until funds are secured.
Offering acknowledgment of key community members making a difference in the 95361, Bairos gave a special mention to Lisa Kjeldgaard and Roxanne Simons, for their pioneer efforts with Oakdale’s inaugural Morning Market.
“Absolutely remarkable,” she said of the event. “It was the inaugural year of the market, but the community came out in support of the event in the thousands. I loved seeing people connecting and re-connecting at the Market. These ladies brought the cream of the crop vendors here.
“They did an amazing job,” Bairos continued, “and started something very new in Oakdale, that was loved by many and brought a lot of life to our downtown.”
Bairos also offered kudos to Bri Swan, Austin Romito and Patrick Mondragon who teamed up to develop oakdaleevents.com; a community calendar that allows residents to see events that are upcoming in the community.
Lastly Bairos revealed a new tool to help the community by way of an App. Introducing myoakdaleca App, the mayor shared the idea was brought to her and City Manager Whitemyer by local businessman Jeff Steves.
“This is something that I had been wanting for a long time,” she stated of the app, adding that while the 1-800 Hotline is still accessible 24 hours, this new tool makes reporting things that much easier.
“This mobile app enables residents to report issues like pot holes, street lights, park irrigation and more directly from the app,” she continued.
The app is available for iPhone, as well as Android users.
“Working together is the key to our success,” Mayor Bairos concluded in her presentation. “As we move forth let us remain steadfast in our commitment to the greater good. Let us build bridges and longer tables and embrace what makes our town vibrant and resilient. Together we can overcome any obstacle and ensure that our town to be a beacon of hope and prosperity for generations to come.”
She also urged residents continuing to stay active in their community.
“In the coming year, let us be architects of positive change,” she said of encouraging people to get involved and attend council meetings. “Our town is not just a place on the map, we are a living, breathing testament of what can be achieved when a community unites with a common purpose.”