LEADERS ON LADDERS
I think it is safe to say that our entire class was impressed with the City of Napa Barwick Jamieson Canyon Water Treatment Plant, a place perhaps more riveting than it sounds and the location where we kicked off Government Day, March 3, 2017, with our hosts for the day, Deputy Public Works Director Phil Brun and Steve Rogers, the Town Manager of Yountville. We were greeted by these two, along with three others: Desiree, Joy, and Tracy. All 5 of these folks who serve government in various capacities are Leadership Napa Valley graduates.
Before our tour of the water treatment property, we were given some fun facts and figures of various local government services, including the interesting detail from Desiree Brun, Assistant to the City Manager, that the value of city services per person is $45.48 per month. We learned more about our county and city finances from Tracy Schulze, our County Auditor Controller who gambled on leaving her home and similar position in corn growing Wisconsin to land an elected position in Napa. She had us participate in fun game of our city’s finances. Joy Eldredge, General Manager of our Water Division told us more than I ever knew about our water and it was also very reassuring to learn that we are doing very well in our supply and quality. The water division is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the water system that serves more than 85,000 people each day. Joy’s passion for the quality of our water was further illustrated by her disdain of bottled water; I feel assured that our water is all we need when it comes to drinking water. We left the meeting room to have a tour of the impressive plant, visiting the lab and the high tech control room; I had no idea there was one small room where eyes are on the various water towers around the County at all times.
After our morning with the water treatment plant, we then left to head to downtown at the firehouse, where 6 tables were set up to represent American Canyon, City of Napa, County of Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. Awaiting our arrival along with a tasty lunch catered by Heritage Eats, were representatives from each of these city and county jurisdictions, giving us the unique opportunity to mingle with an elected official, a top level manager, and a department head staff. I was assigned to American Canyon, which had piqued my interest, as I knew nothing of American Canyon despite being a long time local, other than it’s location. The first to arrive, I immediately introduced myself to the welcoming gentleman at my table who happened to be the Mayor, Mr. Leon Garcia. An amiable and interesting man who grew up in Southern California, he shared information about his city and his enthusiasm for American Canyon was spread to my fellow LNV class members. American Canyon is a young city, incorporated in 1992, and Leon moved there in 2000 from Napa and began serving on the City Council Board in 2002, becoming Mayor in 2006. His vision for his city’s future stems from his passion and his leadership skills for inspiring his vision was palpable when Public Works Director Jason Holley and Parks and Recreation Director Creighton Wright added to the conversation. Exciting things, especially in the field of Parks and Recreation, are coming to American Canyon and to enjoy lunch with these three was indeed an eye opening experience to seeing what is possible in a new city when leaders come together in innovation.
What followed lunch were activities packed with enough action to make any kid on a field trip to the firehouse fiery with envy, as they don’t let the kids do what we adults of LNV got to do. If any of us had unfulfilled fantasies from our youthful visits to the firehouse, we were surely quenched today. We wore the gear the firefighters wear when they do their stuff, played with their heavy equipment, learned CPR on their dummies and performed mock rescues, climbed the fire truck ladders that were launched high above Seminary Street, (causing lots of curious stares from the passing public), and fought a faux fire.
One would think it would be hard to top the all the exciting educational recreation we had at the firehouse, but Jill and the LNV team had prepared an all-engaging mock City Council meeting for us. In the days prior to Government Day, the class was asked to “elect” five fellow classmates to the City Council. Class member Stefan Jezycki was our elected Mayor and was accompanied by Council Members Sarah Marshall, Jay Lang, Beth Nelsen, and Megan Dominici. Our captivating agenda called for Parks and Recreation Director, Julia Baldia, to present her department’s work to us and to receive the Proclamation from the Mayor of March as “Parks and Recreation Month.” Additionally, there were two items as part of the Public Hearing: 1) to discuss the appeal of the Town Manager Steve Brassfield’s decision to deny an exception to the keeping of chickens at 123 Country Lane, and 2) the appeal of the Planning Commission’s denial of medical marijuana. Both items gave our class plenty of opportunity to participate in democracy, providing us a taste of the structure and emotions that come into play in an actual town meeting where the tension of personal attachments to desire, moral ethics and ego can run high. Perhaps the most notable act of participation, garnering the most enjoyment from the crowd was Angela Jackson’s portrayal of Hennie the Chicken who did not want her daughters raised amongst other chickens. Hennie came dressed in a full yellow chicken costume and wore it for the rest of the day, into the post class gathering at Tarla.
On a personal note, this day stood out from the rest as the flow was perfect and the opportunities for learning seemed endless. The addition of having us participate in a City Council Meeting was an excellent choice. Government Day is a day that will stand out in my memory when I look back on my days with Leadership Napa Valley.
Submitted by Beth Nelsen, Molly Moran, and Sonya Milton, members of Class 30.