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Planning for a better Hughson

POSTED December 14, 2010 9:14 p.m.

A once chaotic small Central Valley town has begun planning for a better and more positive future. Even as three new council members take office and a new city manager comes on board, the City of Hughson continues to strive for a stronger community — the first step, creating a strategic plan.  

On Saturday, council members, planning commissioners, parks and recreation members and city staff joined to discuss a strategic plan for the City of Hughson.

“This is the community’s plan,” said Bryan Whitemyer, city manager of Hughson. “With the dedication of the community, I think we can overcome any challenges we have.”

The last time city staff created a vision and strategic plan was back in 2005. It was revised in 2008, although most of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats stayed the same.

In years past, city staff found some of the strengths of Hughson to be the people, the small town feel, and community commitment to improve and the location. While those have stayed as strengths, this year’s staff brought in more benefits of the town such as low crime rate, affordable housing, space for industrial and business growth, and first responders.

“The size of our city is a strength,” said Ramon Bawanan, mayor of the City of Hughson. “We are small so we just do community service. We don’t have to make all these arrangements. We just do it.”

City employees also added onto the weaknesses list with things such as economic leakage, lack of active industrial recruitment and lack of funding for parks. They were able to take a few previous issues on the weaknesses list off, however, including different mindsets of established versus more recent residents and fear of growth. City staff stated that those issues are no longer present in Hughson.

A long list of opportunities were added onto the list including utilizing technology and local colleges to assist with city programs, continued communications with other cities, a local community event, the downtown area and a recreation program ran through the city.

The threat list remained the same with more additions such as the threat of becoming more of a social community than an agriculture community, technology advancements, environmental regulations, the changing economy and lost revenues.

All members present at Saturday’s special meeting also developed actions to fix the weaknesses or threats or actions to keep promoting the strengths and opportunities.

To ensure a continued low crime rate, city staff is hoping to maintain reserves to keep public safety officers employed, encourage more community members to be active, and create neighborhood watch groups.

Staff is expected to put together the strategic plan with all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and actions under those four groups to use as their road map.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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