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State Of The City A Big Screen Affair
A larger than life Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno addressed a theater full of local residents via the big screen during her first State of the City presentation on Thursday, Feb. 18 at the Galaxy 12 Theatres.

The address is usually held in the council chambers, but this year - for the first time - the event was hosted at the Galaxy.

Madueno introduced the city's citizen and youth of the year, as well as the business of the year, and thanked various people and organizations before presenting a pre-recorded piece, flashed on the movie screen, containing her State of the City address.

In the presentation, Madueno's comments were interspersed with various scenes of Riverbank, including the newly refurbished downtown area, the ammo plant, and the former Gangi Cannery site, among other locations.

Madueno said while there are signs the economy is beginning to recover, the city will need to focus on economic development, education, job readiness, public safety and improving the quality of life of residents.

"It is my estimation that 2010 and 2011 will be the years of transition and we will start to see the promise of economic recovery by 2012," she said.

"We are reminded daily of the struggles from our neighbors who find it difficult to pay their bills and put food on the table as our city faces a 23 percent unemployment rate. Like many families and businesses, the city too, has tightened its belt and is finding ways to do more with less, but without compromising our commitment to those we serve."

Madueno said although many Riverbank residents have lost their homes through foreclosure, she is optimistic the housing market will recover and the city will see healthy, sustained growth in the future.

"I'd like to publicly announce that during my administration I will push forward the Smart Growth initiative for Riverbank. There is no question that Riverbank, along with every other community in our country, will continue to experience our share of population growth," she said.

She also said the city will take an active part promoting environmental standards.

"We must be proactive and address the altering effects contributing to climate change. We need to step up to the plate and recognize that we as a community can also do our share to reduce green house emissions, set new guidelines for supporting a more walkable and bikable community and work towards a more sustainable community," she said.

Madueno touched on each city department and its accomplishments during 2009, including the Community Development Department completing the city's General Plan. She said the future will bring a need for a more mobile and healthier population.

"It's about social equity, social justice and a city built for people and less for our cars. Statistics show that 25 percent of all trips we take are less than one mile and 40 percent are less than two miles. Imagine if we could all do our share and we all biked or walked at least one trip a month for the mile or two. It may not sound like much, but we truly can start making a difference for ourselves and our planet."

She also added the city will soon begin working with the Local Government Commission and the California Transportation Commission to look at ways the city can improve pedestrian conditions for residents.

"We should be able to access all parts of our city safely without the fear of being hit by a fast moving car or accessing the east side of town and our newly renovated downtown without having to cross a congested railroad crossing. My vision is to see more of us walk, bike and get to know more of our neighboring citizens," she said.

Madueno said the city is pursuing a local station for the California high speed rail system, and said the former Gangi plant site would be an excellent location.

"What once used to house hundreds of seasonal cannery jobs could once again become the hub for future job expansion. It is no secret that I am a supporter of the high speed rail project for California," she stated.

She also the city's Army Ammo Plant Reuse Plan is well under way, and noted city staff worked with a local business, AM2T, in retaining them in Riverbank.

"Along with companies such as AM2T, we also have other businesses at the Army site that are in the process of expanding their operations, which again will all translate to more jobs for our area," she said.