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New commissioners take a seat at City Hall
Ray Souza
Ray Souza is Turlock's newest Planning commissioner.

The City of Turlock’s two Commissions recently welcomed new members, who were sworn in officially last month after their appointments were approved by the City Council.

Ray Souza joined the Planning Commission on March 7 while John Snoke took a seat on the Parks, Arts & Recreation Commission on March 13, and both Turlock natives hope to lend their decision-making to the betterment of the city.

Souza, the owner of Mel-Delin Dairy in Turlock, has plenty of accolades under his belt, formerly serving as a Stanislaus County Planning Commissioner, president of the Western United Dairymen and a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. Despite these high-profile appointments, the third-generation Turlock resident believes his new position on the City’s Planning Commission could be one of his most important jobs yet.

“I want to see what the issues are, and you start by learning first. I think that it takes a little while to get your feet wet,” Souza said. “We don’t make policy — we just follow policy put in place by the Council.”

Top problems in Turlock that Souza would like to see tackled by both the Planning Commission and the City Council are the condition of the roads, he said, as well as the growing number of homeless individuals on the street. He also hopes to see the City streamline the process of opening a business, so as to attract more potential entrepreneurs.

“We all have opinions and I know you can’t paint them all with the same brush, but when you do something like this that impact people's lives, you need to be serious,” Souza said. “I feel like I owe a lot to Turlock so anything I can do to help my city, I’m willing to do. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us, and hopefully we can fix some of them.”

Joining Souza as a new face around City Hall will be Snoke, a Turlock Unified School District employee who said his role as his street’s Neighborhood Watch Captain played a part in his decision to apply for the Parks, Arts & Recreation Commission.

John Snoke
John Snoke is Turlock's newest Parks, Arts & Recreation Commissioner.

“The area that I take care of is near a park, and that led me to take on the role of being a more active citizen of Turlock,” Snoke said. “When I found out there was an opening for this position, I decided to apply for it.”

Between interacting with students on a daily basis and living so close to a park, Snoke said he hopes to inspire other community members to get involved through both his own experiences around town and by example on the Commission.  

“The biggest changes I want to see is the community become more active, and my goal is to promote Turlock so people can say it’s a great place to live, open a business and start a family,” he said. “Our City takes care of the parks, but a lot of people come and use them and then don’t clean up their messes.”

The next Planning Commission meeting — Souza’s first as a commissioner — will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Yosemite Room at City Hall, and the Parks, Arts & Recreation Commission meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month, also at 6 p.m., in the Yosemite Room.