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Carder Reviews City's 2011 Ups, Downs
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Looking back on nine months as Riverbank's interim city manager, Pam Carder confessed it was no easy job picking up the pieces after Rich Holmer's fall from grace and subsequent ouster from the city, but the staff rallied around her and proved excellent at "keeping things going," Carder said.

"I came in without much background," she noted. "Obviously I knew the job of city manager (she had been one in Lathrop) and I had lived in Riverbank for a long time (26 years). But I didn't know the nuts and bolts of day-to-day management.

"But the staff was helpful and the council supportive and didn't expect us to work miracles. They knew things were up in the air and another change was due in a few months."

That is the selection of another fulltime city manager. The council is due to hold the last interviews on Jan. 17 and hold an open house at the Teen Center that evening for residents to meet the candidates. Council will review citizens' comments the following morning and again interview the top three applicants with the hope of making a choice and negotiating a contract by the council meetings of either Jan. 23 or Feb. 13.

"I've tried not to make big changes, ensure the city continues to function but leave the new city manager room to make the big changes," she said.

At 61 and semi-retired from local government work, Carder hopes to return to part time work under Debbie Olson as a project management specialist for the Local Redevelopment Agency that manages the Riverbank Industrial Complex (former Army ammo plant).

"I hope city residents have not seen a huge decrease in services, but hopefully even a small increase during my time in office," she said.

The city has gone through a lot of upheaval this last year and she tried to keep things steady. That was her main charge.

During the past year, the city has made a major effort to set goals and staff will present these for review by council in January and February so department heads can use them as guides in planning a budget.

The next council meeting on Monday, Jan. 9, will start at noon in accordance with the decision to hold a daytime meeting once every quarter to accommodate citizens who find it difficult to get to evening meetings.

On the agenda for that meeting will be legislative plans. Carder explained the city frequently receives letters from legislators asking for support with some bill or other but there is often insufficient time for the council to meet and determine its point of view. She proposes the council review upcoming legislation, both state and federal, and advise staff on its wishes so that staff can handle requests from legislators on its own and between council meetings.

The city also proposes to work on graffiti abatement this year, complete the downtown specific plan (due to come before the planning commission this month) and cooperate with Riverbank Police Services in combating criminal street gangs.

There will also be a move to improve street lighting (perhaps just with substitution of a higher wattage bulb in some cases) and to increase pedestrian safety. An example would be Patterson Road, especially the stretch between Terminal Avenue and Roselle Avenue where there are still no sidewalks and the road crosses railroad tracks.