Best Of The Best Celebrated at the State Fair

Source: CA State Fair  |  2016-07-29
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Nearly 675,000 people celebrated the best of California during the annual California State Fair, the largest single event in Northern California. The California Exposition and State Fair has a positive $300 million economic impact on the Sacramento region annually, and receives no funding from the government.

As a premiere State-wide event, the State Fair looks at a number of statistics in evaluating its success.  For example, competitive entries increased this year by 21 percent to 21,441 entries compared to 17,753 in 2015. Representing the work of talented Californians, the new photography competition generated 2,256 entries.  As the number of Craft Beer breweries continue to increase in California, the State Fair competition saw an 11 percent increase in Craft Beers vying for the coveted Blue Ribbon, with 1,204 entries. Sponsored by the Tractor Supply Company, the Junior Livestock Sale of Champions experienced a 20 percent increase in funds raised by youth selling the top 56 award winning animals. The $236,400 raised for youth this year was the second highest amount in the past 10 years.

The 2016 California State Fair was packed full of more than 3,000 exhibits and events that featured technology and agriculture and celebrated the best of the Golden State. Advance admission sales were up by 7.2 percent. The Best of California Brewfest drew 2,015 guests, up 31 percent from the previous year’s 1,535 guests.

“For more than 160 years the California State Fair has remained the one constant setting for showcasing the best of California.  From award winning wines, craft beers, fine arts, photography, horse racing, livestock, concerts and entertainment, to technology, science, farming and food, the 2016 State Fair was a huge success,” said Rick Pickering, CEO of the California Exposition & State Fair.  Pickering added, “in the face of a heat wave and tragic events around the nation, hundreds of thousands of guests came out to celebrate the sense of community, good will and unity that the State Fair provides.”

Paid Attendance decreased by 11 percent to 511,224 from a record year of 577,646 in 2015. Total Attendance decreased by 14 percent to 673,237 from a record year of 787,833 total visitors in 2015. Yet through a period of national tragedy and a local heatwave, business and community pride at the State Fair remained strong during the 17-day run.  According to exit survey data, 92 percent of visitors were satisfied with their State Fair experience, and more than 95 percent felt their State Fair was a good value, up from 74 percent in 2015.


Election Corruption is Now Widespread

Commentary by Katy Grimes  |  2016-07-29

Thousands of voters in the June 7th California Primary election showed up at the polls across the state to discover their political party registrations had been changed.

Hundreds of “dead voters” were recently uncovered in Southern California, the majority of them in Los Angeles County. Some of these deceased voters have even been voting for years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Fraudulent dead voters are concerning, but voter fraud is an even bigger problem in close races where election outcomes are decided by only a handful of votes, says Linda Paine, founder of the Election Integrity Project.

But after the June 7th primary, dead voters may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Thousands of Republican and Democratic voters reported to the Election Integrity Project that they arrived at their designated polling stations on June 7th to find that their party affiliation was changed. Most reported being re-registered “No Party Preference,” California’s version of “Decline to State.” Others said their registrations were dropped, or they received the wrong ballot, which in many cases prevented them from voting for President in the primary.

The Election Integrity Project’s Linda Paine said they noticed a pattern in several Southern California counties during Election Day. However, as the polls closed, Paine said they were contacted by large numbers of voters throughout the state upset that their party affiliation was changed, and had to vote using a provisional ballot. What Election Integrity Project wants to know is how many other voters this happened to.

I Se​e Dead People

In 2014, California State Senator Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, was elected Secretary of State. But his race caught the attention of the Election Integrity Project when not one of the 4,681 Los Angeles County polling stations had the vote-by-mail indicators on the check-in rosters on Election Day. Linda Paine said volunteers described chaos at the polls as Inspectors and Coordinators realized there was no way to crosscheck who had already voted.

Election inspectors reported they received a list of 700 names of vote-by-mail voters they were to manually enter onto the check-in roster on Election Day morning. “It is difficult to understand just how this could have happened,” Paine said. “All responsible businesses have procedures in place to ensure quality control so that materials printed on behalf of their company or organization are accurate.” But this did not happen in LA County.

Election Integrity Project volunteers reported that some Inspectors gave up the effort to determine who voted by mail before Election Day and simply gave every voter a regular ballot. Reports also indicated that without time for the Inspectors to ensure the vote-by-mail indicator was in fact placed next to the correct voter, mistakes were made and voters who were regular voters were forced to vote provisionally.

“Provisional ballots are simply regular ballots that are placed in a special Provisional envelope that must be processed after Election Day,” Paine explained. “The processing of Provisional ballots often takes up to 30 days after Election Day. Voters who want their vote to count on Election Day will be disappointed if they vote provisionally. All Vote-by-Mail and Regular ballots are counted before their ballots are counted.”

Los Angeles County Anomalies

Paine said Alex Padilla’s challenger, Pete Peterson, a Republican, lost by about 400,000 votes, of which approximately 350,000 came just from Los Angeles County.

The Election Integrity Project had documented more than 60,000 anomalies and irregularities on the voter rolls in Los Angeles County in 2013. Because the county did not respond to the report, it can be assumed that nothing was done about it, Paine said.

By 2014 the Election Integrity Project provided additional reports to the LA County Registrar. Countless citizens and citizen groups also contacted their representatives on the Board of Supervisors about voting irregularities. The Board authorized an internal audit, prior to the November 2014 election. The audit was ironically underway during the November election when the vote-by-mail data failed to make it to the polling locations.

Linda Paine was contacted by a whistle blower who told her someone in authority must have discovered that the vote-by-mail indicators were missing, but did nothing about it. There are too many checks and balances in place for it to be missed.

Following the 2014 election, armed with five years of data of voting irregularities and anomalies (2011 – 2015), the California Committee for the US Civil Rights Commission reviewed the Election Integrity Project’s research and determined that a public hearing was warranted. On August 28, 2015 California citizens from across the state testified of their eyewitness accounts of “how chaos and corruption was destroying the integrity of California’s election process,” Paine said.

What Happened On California Primary Day?

When Mary (not her real name), a Republican Pacific Pallisades Southern California resident, checked in at her polling location Tuesday June 7th, she was told she was registered “No Party Preference.”

“I’m not a non-partisan voter,” she said. In fact, Mary said many voters at her polling location – Republicans and Democrats – were told they were registered NPP.

Mary challenged the poll workers, and even showed them her Republican Party registration card and Republican Voter Pamphlet she had recently received by mail. “They said ‘Listen lady, you can’t vote. You’re not a Republican,’” Mary said.

Mary said she demanded their names and a signed document saying she couldn’t vote. She demanded the poll workers’ superiors’ name. And then she said it got weird. Mary said the three female poll workers told her they weren’t even from California; they said they had been flown in from Rhode Island to work the California Primary.

Several other voters who also asked for anonymity each said they witnessed poll workers opening the privacy sleeve of voters’ ballots to read the ballot. Instead of putting the ballot through the reader, the poll worker placed the ballots in a box marked “ballots” under the table. Linda Paine said she received many reports of this happening at polling stations throughout the state.

My calls to the Secretary of State’s office were not returned.

Los Angeles County Test Ground

Paine said this pattern was documented in 2012 in Los Angeles County, but not on the large scale as the California Primary Election June 7.

In the 2014 Primary, approximately 1,200 poll workers in Los Angeles “changed their mind about working at the polls,” all at the same time, resulting in a poll worker crisis. Linda Paine said she happened to be at the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office for a meeting, when she overheard two citizens being told they had to speak Spanish if they wanted to be poll workers. She inquired and was told it must have been because all the poll worker positions were filled and they were just looking for interpreters. At the time Linda Paine was told this, robo-calls and emails were being sent to people all over the county looking for poll workers. Something did not add up for Paine.

The Election Integrity Project members called out their volunteer force and asked them to report when they got the emails and calls in order to determine what areas were impacted so that they could provide volunteers in those areas to help. But despite the calls for help in finding poll workers, Paine’s volunteers were turned away and told the positions had already been filled.

Election Anomalies

Paine said the Election Integrity Project members documented June 7 Primary Election Day anomalies, and found disturbing, consistent patterns. “We believe the problem is the Secretary of State’s with Vote Cal system,” she said. “It’s the same problems all over the state.”

The Election Integrity Project is going to compare polling data in the counties with the statewide data, but they are required to purchase this data from every California County, as well as the data from the Secretary of State.

California’s Election Issues

Following the hanging chads incident in Florida in the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, which mandated sweeping reforms, including a statewide voter registration system that would eliminate ineligible voters.

But California failed to comply, and for 12 years was the only state that was still not compliant with the act. In 2014, newly elected Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced upon being elected that he planned to have California compliant within the year.

“In California, the attendants relied upon to watch the election system are failing its citizens,” the Election Integrity Project said in a 2014 report. Election watchers are now volunteers, trained by the Election Integrity Project to carefully monitor California’s elections to ensure that each vote is lawfully cast and accurately counted.

The 2014 report by Election Integrity Project found California’s election system had serious vulnerabilities, no centralized computerized system, no statewide voter registration list, poor National Voter Registration Act list maintenance, non-compliance with statutes protecting lawful voters, and suspected voting fraud.

The report also found key election officials were roadblocks to election integrity. “Whether this stems from negligence or design, or a misguided central focus on ‘voter experience,’ the result is the same: Corruption. The injury to lawful voters is patent.”

Katy Grimes is a regular contributor to FlashReport. Read more at http://www.flashreport.org/blog.


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Brown Signs Bill Providing Help for Those Claiming Refunds on Tax

Source: Board of Equalization  |  2016-07-28

A bill sponsored by the Board of Equalization (BOE) to streamline and simplify refunds on tax liabilities is now signed by the governor and will become law January 1, 2017. AB 1856, authored by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh helps taxpayers making installment payments by only requiring they file one claim for refund, rather than one for each installment payment they have made on a single liability.

“Running a business is challenging enough without having to keep track of multiple layers of paperwork,” said BOE and Legislative Committee Chairwoman Fiona Ma. “It is my goal and that of all our members to simplify and streamline our taxpayers’ dealings with government agencies so they can spend more time on achieving success in their business ventures.”

In several cases, BOE taxpayers have been barred by the statute of limitations from recovering all of the installment payments they made to the BOE, even though their tax debt was cancelled or reduced to an amount less than the total payments received—because they made payments after the original claim had been filed, but did not file additional claims to cover the later payments. The new law will allow taxpayers making installment payments to file a single claim for refund before the entire liability is paid in full.

For specific help, please contact the BOE at 1-800-400-7115.


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State Water Resources Control Board Hearings on WaterFix Begin

Source: California Natural Resources Agency  |  2016-07-28

The State Water Resources Control Board began public hearings on the Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) request to add three new points of diversion for California WaterFix. The opening three days of the hearings began with policy statements from the Natural Resources Agency and U.S. Department of the Interior followed by public comment.

The questions before the Board, defined by the members themselves for Part I of the hearings, are narrow: Does the new point of diversion alter water flows or affect water quality such that there would be injury to any legal user of the water, and does the project in effect initiate a new water right? Part II of the hearing, expected to begin in early 2017, will address fish and wildlife, recreation, and other public trust issues.

DWR has presented evidence showing that the proposed change will neither initiate a new water right nor injure any other legal user of water. DWR’s testimony regarding its petition for change to its water right permit and the petition for the new points of diversion include these key points

  • WaterFix would create more flexibility to better balance water quality and water supply (and fish protection which will be discussed in Part II).

  • DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation do not seek a new or expanded water right or any modifications to the water quality standards upstream or downstream of the proposed diversion points.

  • DWR has a proven track record of meeting the Water Board’s Delta water quality standards and WaterFix would operate within the standards established by the Water Board. Meeting existing or future water quality standards would be easier with the flexibility provided by California WaterFix.

  • WaterFix will be operated in real-time. While modeling can perform an assessment of potential water operation effects, water project operators handle complex situations on a daily basis to stay in compliance with water quality standards.

Part I of the hearings is expected to take several months. For regular updates on the hearings, follow the new California WaterFix blog.

California has been dealing with the effects of drought for five years. To learn about all the actions the State has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.Gov.  Every Californian should take steps to conserve water. Find out how at www.SaveOurWater.com.


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Raley’s Will Remove Artificially Flavored Private Label Brand Sodas

Source: Raley’s  |  2016-07-21

Where we have control over our product lines, we want to offer products that reflect our ongoing vision to infuse life with health and happiness.

Raley’s Family of Fine Stores has announced its decision to eliminate certain Raley’s private label brand soda to advance their vision of health and wellness. This includes all flavors containing high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors, including diet soda varieties.

“This is a bold first step towards improving our private label options for our customers,” said Kevin Curry, Raley’s Senior Vice President, Merchandising & Supply Chain. “Where we have control over our product lines, we want to offer products that reflect our ongoing vision to infuse life with health and happiness. Essentially, we want to make it easier for our customers to make healthier choices.”

A number of studies conducted over the past few decades suggest that consumption of high-fructose corn syrup is connected with health concerns, including a significant risk of weight gain and obesity, an increased risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes, hypertension and elevated “bad” cholesterol levels and liver damage.  Raley’s vision is to infuse life with health and wellness. The company strives to educate customers and provide wholesome Raley’s brand options.

Raley’s has discontinued production of private label soda with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors and will phase-out remaining inventory over the next two-weeks. All Raley’s private label soda with high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors will be out of stock by August 1st.

In another first step in providing healthier options to customers, Raley’s eliminated tobacco in 2015. For more information, visit www.raleys.com.


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FBI Seeking “Bandaged Bandit”

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation  |  2016-07-21

Suspect Wanted for Series of Four Bank Robberies in Nevada and Northern California

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking information to aid in the identification and apprehension of an individual suspected of robbing four banks. The young Caucasian male is suspected of the following robberies:

  • Wednesday, June 29, 2016
    U.S. Bank located at 229 Kingsbury Grade Rd., Stateline, NV 89449
  • Friday, July 1, 2016
    Chase Bank located at 2215 Francisco Dr., El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
  • Thursday, July 14, 2016
    Wells Fargo located at 3935 Park Dr., El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
  • Friday, July 15, 2016
    U.S. Bank located at 1850 Prairie City Rd., Folsom, CA 95630.

The suspect—believed to be in his 20s or 30s—has blonde hair and stands 5’8”-5’10” tall with a large build. He has made an effort to conceal his face by affixing bandages to his nose, chin, and other areas of his face and arms. During the commission of the robberies, the man approached the tellers and either presented a demand note or made a verbal demand for cash while threatening that he had a weapon. After receiving undisclosed amounts of money, the subject fled the locations on foot. Photos of the suspect are available on the FBI’s Wanted Bank Robber website: https://bankrobbers.fbi.gov/robbers-container/2016-07-15.6450756429.

The robberies are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, and Folsom Police Department.

Individuals with information about this man may call their local FBI office or 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-885-5984). Tips may also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov. If the subject is spotted in the community, the public is urged to call 911 and not approach the individual. For more information about individuals wanted for bank robberies in your area, please visit https://bankrobbers.fbi.gov


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Caliber Collision Food Drive in Sacramento Contributes to 3.1 Million Meals Nationwide

Source: Galena Robinson, Caliber Collision  |  2016-07-21

Larry Lane from Caliber Collision accepts a check from Stephanie Palombi of Folsom Lake Honda, one of many local Sacramento businesses who contributed towards Caliber Collision’s 5th Annual Rhythm Restoration Food Drive to benefit Pacer Food Bank. 
--Photo Courtesy of Caliber Collision

Local Efforts Help Placer Food Bank Feed Children During Summer

A local food drive in Sacramento area by Caliber Collision yielded nearly 130,000 meals, contributing to nationwide total of 3.1 million meals to help provide at-risk children with nutritious meals during the summer months.

Caliber’s 5th Annual Rhythm Restoration Food Drive was a grassroots effort by associates at Caliber’s 16 centers in the greater Sacramento area who rallied business partners, customers and the public to donate cash and food for Placer Food Bank and bring awareness to the issue of childhood hunger. Nationwide, the company collected over $334,000 in cash donations and thousands of pounds of food for 37 food banks.

According to Feeding America, 1 in 5 children in the U.S. worry about when they’ll have their next meal. Hunger is especially devastating in childhood -- studies show that proper nutrition is critical to a child’s physical, emotional and learning development. The problem is especially acute during the summer months when at-risk children do not have access to regular school lunch programs.

“Giving back to our local communities is an integral part of Caliber’s core values,” said Steve Grimshaw, Caliber Collision Chief Executive Officer. “I am proud of our 9,000 teammates who worked tirelessly over the three week drive to raise a record breaking amount of meals for kids in need. We thank our business and community partners who have joined with us to restore the rhythm of life for children across the 16 states that Caliber serves.”

About Caliber Collision Centers
Caliber Collision Centers is one of the largest collision repair companies in America with 413 I-CAR Gold Class Professional certified collision repair centers across 16 states. Caliber is consistently ranked among the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry and backs all repair work with a written, lifetime warranty available at any of its 420 repair centers. For more information about Caliber Collision, please visit our website at www.calibercollision.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


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Placer County Says Farewell to Bookmobile, New Mobile Library Coming Soon

Source: Alex Boesch, County of Placer  |  2016-07-21

After a storied, 45-year career of delivering books to the community, the beloved Placer County Bookmobile is driving off to a well-deserved retirement. A new mobile library is coming this fall, bringing the same excellent service to the community with a few exciting bonus features.

The community is invited to bid a fond farewell to the Bookmobile and catch a performance of Wild Things, a live animal show, as part of the Placer County Library summer reading program, July 25, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at the Auburn Recreation Park. This will be the last opportunity to walk through and even check out a book or two from the Bookmobile before it ends its service. Materials checked from the Bookmobile can be returned by their due date to any library in the Placer County library system.

While Bookmobile fans wait for the new mobile library to hit the road, e-book and audiobook titles are available for download at www.placer.ca.gov/library.

The Bookmobile was established in 1970 to provide library services to rural areas of the county and residents who could not easily reach brick and mortar libraries, such as those living in convalescent homes. Since then, the Bookmobile has traveled over 300,000 miles, loaning books, magazines, paperbacks and books on CD, filling requests for specific titles for library users of all ages.

County staff are preparing to roll out a new mobile library this fall, thanks in-part to a $20,000 grant from the Air Pollution Control District to the Placer County Department of Public Works and Facilities.

A lot has changed in 45 years, so the new mobile library is getting a couple of new upgrades to keep up with the times. The mobile library will be a Wi-Fi hotspot, offering the community access to the internet with on-board mobile devices patrons can use. It will be powered by a clean diesel engine, helping reduce its carbon footprint on the environment.

Apart from the upgrades, much about the mobile library will be the same. In fact, materials from the Bookmobile will be transitioned to the mobile library.

The mobile library will also have a new regular weekly stop in Meadow Vista, located in front of the Community Center at 1109 Meadow Vista Road.

The Placer County Library is currently recruiting for a new driver to partner with the mobile library. The library assistant position duties include selecting materials for the mobile library collection relative to the needs of customers at each stop, implementing library programs, providing customer service, vehicle maintenance and more. Since the new mobile library is lighter and smaller, it only requires a class c driver license. Visit the Placer County mobile library website for more information.


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Placer County Developing New Approach to Treating Addiction

Source: Chris Gray-Garcia, County of Placer  |  2016-07-21

Placer County is developing a new approach to addiction treatment that treats addiction as a disease, and coordinates addiction services across county departments to provide consistent care in support of recovery.

More than 200 Placer County staff and community health providers gathered July 20 in Rocklin for a workshop on this approach substance use services training from world-renowned addiction specialist Dr. David Mee-Lee.

Mee-Lee, one of the founders of the most highly regarded approach to substance use care, presented an approach he helped design, described in the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s book, “The ASAM Criteria - Treatment for Addictive, Substance-Related, and Co-Occurring Conditions.”

Because substance use challenges are addressed by a number of county departments, ranging from law enforcement to public health to the courts, the county is taking a system-wide approach so departments can have a common language and practice for assessing, treatment planning, care coordination and determining the appropriate level of care for low-income people with substance use issues.

“It’s exciting that Placer County is really looking at a new organized delivery system that ensures a good continuum of care for people with addiction,” said Mee-Lee. “This program will increase access to care as well as use resources efficiently to get outcomes we all want.”

Mee-Lee aims to help county staff and community health providers better understand the ASAM approach to assessment and treatment planning and how to implement this new approach within Placer County.

“This is a great opportunity to change Placer County’s substance use service system into an organized delivery system,” said Maureen Bauman, director of Placer County Adult System of Care. “This pilot program will give us all the same perspective, common language and terms which is critical as we serve the people we share in our systems.”

The workshop included three learning objectives: reviewing ASAM underlying principles and concepts; applying ASAM criteria multidimensional assessment, treatment planning and care management; and discussing program and systems changes necessary to implement the spirit and content of the ASAM criteria.

In August 2015, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a waiver that authorizes California to test a new paradigm for the organized delivery of health care services for Medicaid-eligible individuals with a substance use disorder. County staff plans to submit their plan of an organized delivery system for substance use services to the state later this year and anticipates approval sometime in 2017.


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Kings Beach Project Wins Prestigious National Award

Source: Robert Miller, County of Placer  |  2016-07-21

A cornerstone project that is transforming the North Lake Tahoe community of Kings Beach’s downtown has been given a prestigious national award by the American Public Works Association. The first phase of Kings Beach Commercial Core Improvement Project is nearing completion after three years of construction and after more than a decade of planning.

The nationwide association this month announced that the project earned the Public Works Project of the Year in the transportation category for projects costing between $5 million and $25 million. In awarding the project the association also noted the project progressed on time, despite the shortened construction season and with crews having to deal with inclement weather throughout the building season.

“A few years ago, the main drag through Kings Beach had no sidewalks or bike lanes, a single crossing across State Route 28 where pedestrians were too often struck by vehicles, and no amenities that would encourage people to get out of their cars and walk,” said Public Works and Facilities Director Ken Grehm. “There are many people who have been a part of this project over the years who should feel proud for this peer recognition. Despite the obstacles inherent to building in the Tahoe Basin, staff has persevered and the area is greatly improved.”

The focus of the project is threefold: stormwater improvements, aesthetic improvements and making the community more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Extensive stormwater collection, conveyance and treatment features were installed as part of the project. Prior to construction, runoff, with its nutrient-laden dirt, would flow unchecked into Lake Tahoe. The reduced clarity of the lake can be directly attributed to runoff. The project added gutters, drains, collection basins and treatment structures that will significantly reduce the runoff into the lake in Kings Beach.

The shoreline at Kings Beach is one of the most beautiful around Lake Tahoe’s 77-mile perimeter. However, prior to project construction, the area was missing basic amenities. There were no sidewalks, curbs and gutters, landscaping, crosswalks or other features to encourage the public to get out of their cars and walk. Additionally, the four-lane highway through the community did little to encourage slow and safe vehicular traffic. The aesthetics of the high mountain beauty was lost. Now with the highway being a three-lane thoroughfare with roundabouts, traffic has slowed and the views are more readily seen.

The current status of the corridor as it runs through Kings Beach now has sidewalks and bicycle lanes and pedestrian features such as benches, trash receptacles, lighting, public transit pullouts and crosswalks. In addition, there is an ADA-accessible path of travel on both sides of the highway. Reconfiguring of the highway into a three-lane highway with roundabouts has slowed traffic and improved safety to cyclists and pedestrians alike. Three public parking lots have been built, improving off-street parking.

The project was recognized for the collaborative efforts between the county’s public works department, contractors and consultants. The award will be presented at the association’s annual meeting in August.


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