2021 Year in Review

Following is a sample of some of the stories that the Tracy Press covered in 2021. This week’s edition covers the second half of the year, July to December. The months of January to June were covered in last week’s Dec. 31 issue.

July

Fourth of July celebrations return to Tracy

Tracy’s Fourth of July celebration returned to Lincoln Park with a day that started with a sunrise hot-air balloon launch and continued with a downtown parade, games and rides for children at the park, and capped off with a fireworks show at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium. The Independence Day festivities, sponsored by the Tracy Chamber of Commerce and the City of Tracy, took a hiatus in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic.

City declares drought emergency

The City of Tracy is set to implement further water restrictions in response to California’s drought conditions, with the hope that dwindling supplies can meet demand through the summer without resorting to more severe restrictions. On July 6 the council unanimously approved a resolution that declared Tracy to be in a drought emergency and authorized Stage 3 of the city’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan. It follows a state proclamation from the spring, where Governor Gavin Newsom declared statewide drought emergency.

Active-adult community project breaks ground in southwest Tracy

Silver-plated shovels dug ceremonial dirt from a piece of ground July 22 in southwest Tracy, signaling the start of construction of a long-awaited gated “active-adult” community for those 55 years of age and older. The 134-acre project, located at the southeast corner of Valpico and Corral Hollow roads, was recently purchased from Ponderosa Homes of Pleasanton by Toll Brothers, which changed the project’s name from Tracy Village to Regency at Tracy Lakes. As many as 590 single-family, single-story homes will be constructed at full buildout.

County OK’s funds for city to complete homeless shelter

Action by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors last week has provided the city of Tracy with the balance of the funding the city needs to build a homeless shelter at the north end of town. On a unanimous vote at its July 13 meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved $8.4 million in funding for emergency low-barrier shelters for the cities of Tracy, Manteca and Lodi. Tracy’s share of that is $3.6 million, in addition to funds already allocated by the city, to pay for a $6.23 million shelter between Arbor Avenue and Larch Road.

August

Tracy residents stand against crime at National Night Out

Residents across Tracy took a stand against crime in their neighborhoods as they joined in the annual National Night Out on Aug. 3. Neighborhood Watch groups held parties and gatherings on their blocks with caravans of police officers, firefighters, city council members and city officials, who visited 16 NNO locations spread across town. The event gives residents the opportunity to meet and interact with police officers and other public safety and city staff in positive circumstances to help create relationships between them.

California to requires all school teachers and staff to be vaccinated or tested

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new public health order on Aug. 11 that required teachers and staff in both public and private schools statewide to be fully vaccinated or submit to a weekly COVID-19 test. The order, issued by the California Department of Public Health, is the first in the nation requiring all school staff to show proof of full vaccination or be tested once a week. The order applies to staff in transitional kindergarten through 12th grade but does not include home schools, childcare or higher education settings.

Board of Supervisors passes resolution to denounce state mask mandates in schools

In a 4-1 vote, with District 2 Supervisor Kathy Miller dissenting, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to advocate for individual school districts and parents to decide if students should be masked in school. Though the resolution has no legal bearing – since school districts are legally obligated to follow guidelines set forth by the California Department of Education – the resolution was meant to send a strong statement to the state government that parts of the county were at odds with the series of laws and regulations set forth by the state in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Council hires interim city manager

The former city manager of Manteca takes over as Tracy’s interim city manager. The Tracy City Council on Aug. 17 unanimously approved a contract with Robert Adams to serve as the interim city manager until the city council can hire a new permanent city manager to replace Jenny Haruyama, whose last day on the job was Aug. 16. Adams was selected out of a pool of four candidates for the interim job. Because he is a California Public Employee Retirement System retiree his contract is limited to 960 hours, which would be just shy of six months under a 40-hour work week.

Mountain House dedicates town hall and library facility

Mountain House residents were welcomed to the community’s new Town Hall and library complex. Nearly 16 months after they moved in, Mountain House Community Services District officials welcomed the community to the 53,619-square-foot facility on Aug. 21, most of which had been closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fire Authority opens newest station in Tracy Hills

The public got to tour the newest fire station for the South San Joaquin County Fire Authority on Aug. 28 as Station 95 opened on the corner of Tracy Hills Drive and Criseldo Mina Avenue in the Tracy Hills development. It’s one of seven stations within the fire authority, which was formed in 1999 through a merger with the Tracy Fire Department and Tracy Rural County Fire Protection District. Fire authority Chief Randall Bradley noted that it’s the first additional station to open in the past 20 years.

September

Tracy remembers, honors the victims of the sept. 11 terrorist attacks 20 years later

Tracy remembered the sacrifices and victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago with several ceremonies involving students and first responders. On Sept. 10, members of the West High School Air Force Junior ROTC program held a 9/11 Remembrance Retreat Ceremony. Early morning on Sept. 11, South San Joaquin County Fire Authority crews lowered flags at each of the seven fire stations to half-staff, marking the time the first hijacked airliner crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. South County Fire Authority also took part in a special bell ringing at the Tracy Connects event in Lincoln Park hosted by Mayor Nancy Young and the Tracy Chamber of Commerce. In the evening, Tracy Mayor Nancy Young held the Tracy Mayor’s Benefit “Reflect & Unite,” honoring the 20th anniversary of 9/11 while also raising funds for local organizations. Jass Sangha also hosted her 19th annual Sept. 11 Dinner and Fundraiser to honor the lives lost and the families of the victims.

University campus planned for south of Tracy

The Milpitas-based University of Silicon Andhra announced Sept. 13 that it plans to create its home campus south of Tracy, which could lead to a larger multi-use development. The campus, which would include a university with a high-tech curriculum and an adjacent trade school for technical training, will be located on 67 acres on the west side of Chrisman Road, just south of Durham Ferry Road, on land donated by the Sandhu Family.

Recall fails, Newsom remains as governor

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom survived a recall attempt, with nearly two-thirds of California voters rejecting the recall in statewide polling that concluded the evening of Sept. 14. With all precincts reporting as of Sept. 15, 63.9% of votes counted were against the recall. That accounts for more than 5.8 million voters who have chosen to keep Newsom as governor through the rest of his term, which continues through 2022. Nearly 3.3 million voters (36.12%) voted to recall Newsom.

Council takes steps to make outdoor dining a permanent downtown fixture

Now that the open-air restaurant trend has taken hold, the city of Tracy hopes to make it a permanent feature of downtown. On Sept. 21 the Tracy City Council began to establish a new set of rules that could allow restaurant owners to convert parking spaces in front of their businesses into dining patios. On a unanimous vote the council introduced an ordinance that will establish the downtown “parklet” program, and also set aside federal COVID-19 relief funds to help businesses convert parking spaces into parklets.

October

Governor announces vaccine mandate for all California students

Students in both public and private schools will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend in-person instruction. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that pending the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the vaccine, COVID-19 vaccination will be added to the list of immunizations required to enroll a student in school. The student vaccine mandate, the first in the nation, is expected to take effect by July 1, 2022, first for grades seven through 12.

Board of supervisors passes resolution opposing vaccination passports within county

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday that prohibits the requirement of COVID-19 vaccine passports from any county office, board or agent. The resolution passed on a 4-0-1 vote. The motion was moved by Supervisors Chair Tom Patti and seconded by District 5 Supervisor Robert Rickman. The resolution only prohibits the use of vaccine passports for county departments. However, the resolution also strongly urges any other agencies, organizations or private businesses to follow the county’s lead.

Tracy Police Department switches to encrypted radios

A news release said that the Tracy Police Department will transition to the encrypted radios to comply with California Department of Justice mandates and guidelines requiring every law enforcement agency in the State to encrypt radio transmissions to protect sensitive information. The police say the mandate is designed to protect the privacy and identity of any person, including the victims of crime, whose information is broadcast over police radios.

City attorney gives notice to council

Tracy City Attorney Leticia Ramirez informed the Tracy City Council that after 5 years with the city she will resign from her position effective Nov. 14. The council accepted her resignation following a closed session on Oct. 15, where Ramirez submitted a brief letter giving her notice. Ramirez said that she is pursuing a career opportunity closer to her home in Sacramento but did not discuss details, pending further discussions related to that opportunity.

Council approves Phase 2 of Tracy Hills development

The next phase of the Tracy Hills development gained Tracy City Council approval Oct. 19, clearing the way for 1,470 new homes on 457 acres on the southwest side of Interstate 580. The council’s 4-1 vote, with Councilman Mateo Bedolla dissenting, affirms a unanimous Tracy Planning Commission vote from Oct. 6. In addition to new homes, Phase 2 of Tracy Hills includes four neighborhood parks, a community park and a school site.

Candy crawl, costume march fills downtown Tracy streets

Downtown streets were packed with costumed characters as trick-or-treating at businesses along 10th Street and Central Avenue was in full swing during the Tracy City Center Association’s Downtown Tracy Candy Crawl and costume march Oct. 23. About 2,000 people filled downtown for the return of the trick-or-treating event that was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

November

FDA authorizes COVID-19 vaccine for young children

Young children can now be vaccinated against COVID-19 after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine. In a news release the FDA said children 5- to 11-years-old can now be vaccinated in two doses, three weeks apart. The Pfizer vaccine will be given to younger children in a lower, 10 micrograms dose compared to the 30 micrograms dose given to individuals 12 years-or-older.

Sikh American Awareness Month recognized in both city and county

For the first time in San Joaquin County history, November was proclaimed as Sikh American Awareness Month by both the Tracy City Council and The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. Jass Sangha accepted the proclamations on behalf of the Sikh community, who said that the city has recognized the Sikh community for 10 years but that this was the first time that the community was recognized on a county level.

Veterans Day celebrated with in-person ceremony

Veterans Day returned to the Tracy War Memorial under clear blue skies and American flags rippling in a light breeze. Some 200 people gathered before the monument to Tracy’s war dead to take part in the ceremony, a welcome change from last year’s Veterans Day television presentation, which was held instead of an in-person ceremony because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Great Plate set for demolition

After declaring the property a public nuisance, a lawsuit and final judgement from a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge, the City of Tracy began to prepare the 100-year-old Great Plate building for demolition sometime in 2022. Crews placed a fence around the two-story building and parking lot at 714 N. Central Avenue, closing off a section of sidewalk in front of the building and partially closing nearby Jackson Alley next to the building. The fence is expected to remain up through March.

Rotary Club, volunteers deliver on annual Senior Thanksgiving Dinner

Dozens of volunteers gathered to help assemble and distribute hundreds of turkey dinners to seniors across Tracy during the 26th annual Senior Thanksgiving Dinner sponsored by the Rotary Club of Tracy Sunrise on Nov. 21 at IPFES Hall on Ninth Street. Yauna Throne, Rotary club secretary, said this was the largest number of seniors served, with 496 dinners that were delivered or picked up in a drive-thru at the hall.

Tracy’s Jewish community celebrates Channukah with public Menorah lighting

Members of the Tracy Jewish community joined with residents to light a menorah in front of Tracy City Hall to celebrate the second night of Channukah Nov. 29. Rabbi Levi Meijers of the Chabad of Tracy Jewish Center led the menorah lighting at city hall as the center’s first event as an established Jewish community. The menorah lighting drew in about 200 people that gathered near the fountain at city hall to light candles on a 12-foot-tall menorah. During the observance, one additional candle on the nine-branched candelabra will be lit each night.

December

Mountain House residents break ground on crowd-funded dog park

Mountain House community broke ground on a crowd-funded dog park Dec. 3. About a dozen residents were joined by members of the Mountain House Community Services District board of directors and Supervisor Robert Rickman to celebrate the beginning of an interim dog park to be built along Providence Street across from the eastern edge of Central Community Park near the Town Hall. The park will be named “Sydney’s Dog Park” in remembrance of a puppy who died of a rare form of cancer just days after the Kickstarter began.

Thousands fill downtown for holiday light parade, tree lighting ceremony

Thousands of people filled downtown streets to watch the return of the Tracy City Center Association’s Holiday Light Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony Dec. 4 in Downtown Tracy. This year’s parade featured 30 entries in decorated vehicles, walking unit and float/trailer displays categories. Mayor Nancy Young led the parade down 10th Street to Central Avenue ending at the Sixth Street roundabout.

City Council approves Rogers as new city manager

Michael Rogers was appointed as the new city manager of Tracy. Rogers, most recently the deputy city manager for Glenn Heights, Texas, started work on Dec. 13 after the Tracy City Council unanimously approved his appointment at the Dec. 7 regular meeting. The council approved his appointment, including his annual salary of $262,444, on a unanimous vote, with little discussion except to welcome Rogers to the city. Rogers is the 12th city manager that the city has had since 1954 and the fourth city manager the city has had in the past seven years.

Volunteer effort, community donations bring a successful Brighter Christmas distribution

With donations from the community and local businesses, non-profit Brighter Christmas was able to help 500 families and about 1,000 children with food and toys this Christmas. Brighter Christmas volunteers handed out hundreds of boxes of food and thousands of toys on Dec. 21 at Williams Middle School in their 45th year helping families in need. Work began in November when low-income families who needed help signed up to receive a box of food and toys for children newborn to 13-years-old. The charity also held a virtual jail and bail fundraiser and several food and toy drives to help fill the boxes.

City, TCCC, open warming center as harsh weather sets in

On Dec. 21 the Tracy City Council approved a $187,000 contract with Tracy Community Connections Center to operate the warming center. On Dec. 22 TCCC Executive Director Bubba Paris and a group of volunteers had turned Good Shepherd Community Church at the corner of Parker and Eaton avenues into a drop-in center where all are currently welcome to stop for a cup of coffee and stay through the night. The center will be open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every night until March 31.

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