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Stately Address - OBrien Declares: City Is Strong
Mayor Richard OBrien gave his State of the City Address at the Galaxy Theatre on Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m. in front of a large crowd that attended the festivities. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien delivered his speech to a full house at the State of the City Address on Thursday, March 7 at the Galaxy Theatre in Riverbank. O’Brien discussed the city’s accomplishments over the last year and outlined the plan for the upcoming year. He also addressed how the city can continue to make progress with the help from the community.

“I am truly honored and privileged to present Riverbank’s State of the City Address for 2013,” stated O’Brien. “The time for positive and direct leadership is now.”

City Manager Jill Anderson was the master of ceremonies at the event and welcomed everyone to the address. The evening festivities started out with the Riverbank High School NJROTC (Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps) presenting the colors and leading the crowd into the Pledge of Allegiance.

The guests that attended this event came from a broad range and included city employees, representatives from other governmental agencies, school board members and the school superintendent, and many Riverbank citizens. Darren McDaniel, a representative from Congressman Jeff Denham’s office was present and Douglas Miller, a representative from Tom Berryhill’s office was there as well.

Mayor O’Brien’s touched on several different areas in his speech and listed below are just some of the items he mentioned as being important to the city.

The North County Corridor is a project that will be advancing. The corridor will run adjacent to Claribel Road on the South side of the city. Eventually, the corridor will be a six lane highway with access points near the Crossroads shopping center and the Riverbank industrial complex. The exact route will be determined this year, according to O’Brien. He added that this corridor will enhance the movement of goods and services, especially for the industrial complex.

“Rest assured we have complete representation on the committee,” expressed O’Brien. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

He also stated that they will try to encourage new businesses to call Riverbank their home by making sure all the planning documents accurately reflect their direction. Also to make sure City Hall has the tools to address the needs of new businesses and adequately support the existing businesses.

There are two new businesses that recently started out in Riverbank, O’Brien mentioned, that are thriving and growing. One business is eContact Live which employs over 100 people and is still expanding. The other is Intuitive Motion, which created the ZBoard, an electric skateboard that started out in Riverbank as a two person shop and since has grown. BevMo will be joining the other businesses in the Crossroads shopping center.

The city’s budget, O’Brien stated, is still in a fragile state. They have received some legal funds from a lawsuit that has helped bring the reserves to 11 percent by the end of the fiscal year, he said. Since the city has to hold a special election this may cause them to drop below their reserves again. In the next three years the expected obligations may be greater than their revenues, but O’Brien vowed that the city will continue to face challenges and they will have to overcome them.

On public safety, O’Brien reiterated that the safety of residents is very important to the City of Riverbank. The partnership the city has with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department has been effective, reliable, and is a fiscally responsible method of providing police services to the community, he said. The Sherriff Department now has a K9 unit and a gang unit to combat the crime in Riverbank.

O’Brien concluded his first State of the City address by noting that there are several groups that have the same goal: to make Riverbank the best place to live. Also, he said, Riverbank finds strength in its diversity.

“The state of our city is strong,” said O’Brien.

The night ended with refreshments in the theatre lobby and people mingling, sharing thoughts on the speech and looking to the year ahead for the City of Action.